Friday, May 7, 2021

They Better Call Me Sugar

 By Sugar Rodgers

 Akashic     2021

190 pages     YA Memoir

The Shortlist

I must begin by saying that I had no idea who Sugar Rodgers is, nor could I have named the sport she plays when this book came from the publisher. But I quickly found out as I began the book that Sugar Rodgers is a WNBA basketball star, who has been a star athlete from a very early age.

TaShauna Rodgers was born in 1989 into a large family in Virginia, headed by a strong-willed, purposeful mother. The neighborhood was rough but the family was resilient and bonded. TaShauna has always gone by the name, Sugar, hence the title of the book. At a very early age, Sugar showed great promise as an athlete, whether it was golf, football, or basketball—at which she excelled. She was the first of her family to attend college, where she was a basketball star, and now she plays basketball for the Las Vegas Aces.

The memoir is filled with anecdotes and memories from her childhood on, written in short, easy to read chapters. Although the writing a bit disjointed, the reader is left with insight and inspiration, particularly regarding the influence of her mother as well as the mentors who understood her potential and her strength of will. She says in closing, “My personal education has been one of knowledge gained from a never-ending list of people and life experiences. I cannot dismiss any of the impact that those interactions have had on me. They have all participated equally in creating my success. The positive people in my life and the negative ones—any way you look at it, they were all good for me. My haters are my motivators and my supporters are my lifeline.”

The most poignant story in the book is about the time as a young girl when her sister was in jail, and she went to visit her. The reader could feel the emotion radiating from the pages as she described putting her hand on the glass in an attempt to reach her sister, while speaking to her on the phone. Yet they were all smiling. A pivotal moment in her life.

I would recommend They Better Call Me Sugar to young teenage girls who are seeking a role model or girls who are interested in sports careers. It will resonate and inspire them.

Here is the Kirkus review.

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