Hi everyone! I am so excited to be one of today’s tour stops for the tour of Sugar and Spite by Gail D. Villanueva, which is hosted by the amazing TBR and Beyond Tours team! Be sure to check out the tour schedule HERE or below!
Sugar and Spite
Author: Gail D. Villanueva
Publication Date: 20 April 2021
Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy
Representation: Filipino Own Voices
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Can a bully be defeated by a magical love potion?
Jolina can’t take Claudine’s bullying any longer! The taunts and teasing are too much. Though Jolina knows she’s still in-training to use her grandfather’s arbularyo magic, she sneaks into his potions lab to get her revenge. Jolina brews a batch of gayuma, a powerful love potion.
And it works. The love potion conquers Claudine’s hateful nature. In fact, Claudine doesn’t just stop bullying Jolina-now she wants to be Jolina’s BFF, and does everything and anything Jolina asks.
But magic comes with a cost, and bad intentions beget bad returns. Controlling another person’s ability to love-or hate-will certainly have consequences. The magic demands payment, and it is about to come for Jolina in the form of a powerful storm…
Magic and reality mingle in this brilliant new middle-grade novel by Gail D. Villanueva that asks whether it’s ever okay to take away someone’s free will.
TW: bullying, pet death
Sugar and Spite was my first foray into Gail D. Villanueva’s writing, and I can already tell you that it most certainly will not be my last. This was such a heartwarming and magical, coming of age story that I think so many people will be able to relate to regardless of age. Furthermore, this story is unapologetically Filipino. This story does not serve to teach the nuance of Filipino culture but instead allows Filipino children to be seen on page.
Jolina Bagayan and her family recently moved from the big city life of Manila to Isla Pag-ibig. Jolina is constantly reminded that she’s an outsider thanks to Claudine, the daughter of the island’s wealthiest resort owner. When Jolina is the only one not invited to Claudine’s exclusive birthday party, she decides to use her grandfather’s arbularyo magic to create a potion that will force Claudine to be Jolina’s best friend.
I love Jolina’s character. She’s incredibly smart, resourceful, and caring. Jolina is an apprentice to her Lolo, so she can also learn arbularyo magic. She has an incredible dog named Kidlat. It is evident that Jolina is incredibly close to her parents and Lolo. Jolina is not without flaws. Claudine’s constant bullying leaves Jolina anxious and lonely. And while Jolina’s family has always taught her the consequences of magic done against someone’s will, she still creates a potion to force Claudine to be her friend. This really dives into the examination of magical consequences, friendship, and forgiveness.
Villanueva did a really fantastic job comparing and contrasting Jolina’s and Claudine’s and showing how their own prejudices about each other hindered them from seeing the good in one another. Assumptions and miscommunication is so common, and I really enjoyed watching how this was addressed and overcome in the story.
This is one of those books that you should not read on an empty stomach because OMG I needed all of the food that was described. The descriptions are so lush, and I was salivating at all of the delicious foods that I was not eating alongside everyone else. Rude.
Overall, if you love a good coming of age story that centers family and friendship but also sprinkles a dash of magic then you will definitely love this story.
Thank you to Scholastic Press for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Grab your copy of Sugar and Spite HERE!
Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipino author born and based in the Philippines. She’s also a web designer and an entrepreneur. She loves pineapple pizza, seafood, and chocolate, but not in a single dish together (eww). Gail and her husband live in the outskirts of Manila with their dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and one friendly but lonesome chicken. Her debut novel My Fate According to the Butterfly (Scholastic, 2019) was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, an Amazon Best Book of the Month Editor’s Pick, and a NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Gail’s next book, Sugar And Spite, will be published by Scholastic on April 20, 2021.