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Sugar Rush    by Julie Burchill order for
Sugar Rush
by Julie Burchill
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTempest, 2005 (2005)

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*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Recently, a small number of teen books dealing with same-sex relationships have hit the shelves. Combine this with the influx of Brit-Lit novels for young adults and you get Julie Burchill's Sugar Rush. Kim believes that every girl hits a pivotal moment in her life when she comes of age, usually during the fifteenth year. Kim's life has already undergone a drastic change, when her mother up and left for the Bahamas with a rich twenty-something.

Though not the defining moment of her life, her mother's absence does lead to her right-of-passage. Without a second source of income, Kim's dad is forced to pull her out of the prestigious Preston High and put her into the local Ravendene Comprehensive, the worst school in Brighton. Transfering schools is hard enough for Kim, but getting in a fight with her best friend over it makes things worse. However, Kim no longer cares about her former best friend once she meets Sugar during her first day at Ravendene. Sugar is Kim's opposite, but soon the two become inseparable, spending all their time hanging together and getting drunk. One night after a few drinks, Kim realizes that she has fallen for Sugar. At first, things are wonderful, but soon Sugar starts to pull away. In dealing with her feelings for Sugar, Kim begins to come to terms with her feelings for her absent mother, and eventually emerges wiser than before.

Sugar Rush may appear to be about a teenage same-sex relationship, but this aspect is not as pronounced as in other books of the genre. Kim's story is more about a girl trying to gain control of her life, after it was changed by a major event that was out of her hands. Kim has always been a good student, but when her parents mess with her comfortable life, she begins to rebel. However, her physical relationship with Sugar is not part of her rebellion. As these two events come off as separate themes, the book is not as cohesive as it should be. Yes, Sugar aids in Kim's rebellion, but Kim could follow Sugar's lead without it delving into a physical relationship. Yes, Kim's love for Sugar helps her sort out her feelings for her mother, but this could happen without Kim's descent into drug use and alcoholism.

Either one of these themes could make a great story on its own, but together it becomes too many issues to deal with comprehensively in 279 pages. Burchill does a great job of giving readers a taste of the life and culture of a fifteen-year-old British girl, but she does not fully address the right-of-passage that Kim is going through.

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