cover image Sugar and Spite

Sugar and Spite

Gail D. Villanueva. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-338-63092-3

Moving to Isla Pag-Ibig from Marikina City in Metro Manila wasn’t how Filipina Jolina Beatrice Bagayan, 12, imagined she would start her apprenticeship with her Lolo Sebyo as an arbularyo, or faith healer. On top of trying to fit in, she must contend with bully Claudine Dimasalang, who’s “brown but lighter than [Jolina].” Frustrated at faking cordiality to protect her mother’s probationary job at Claudine’s family resort, Jolina brews a gayuma—love potion—for Claudine. But it comes with a warning: “Two powerful forces combined in a potion can result in even greater consequences.” Soon, Claudine wants to be BFFs and invites Jolina to her birthday party. When Jolina begins to view Claudine as a legitimate friend, the line between magic and real emotions blurs. Villanueva (My Fate According to the Butterfly) seamlessly blends Filipino mysticism and culture with themes of internalized racism, classism, and homophobia. Pinoy readers will especially appreciate smoothly interwoven Tagalog and references to Filipino pop culture, but this accessible speculative read will appeal to many. Back matter includes a recipe for yema balls and an author’s note discussing various cultural elements mentioned throughout the book. Ages 8–12. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Birch Path Literary. [em](Apr.) [/em]