They Better Call Me Sugar: My Journey from the Hood to the Hardwood

Akashic/Black Sheep. May 2021. 176p. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781617759291.
Gr 5-8–Rodgers’s journey to the WNBA was not an easy road, to say the least. She starts her book with a desire to motivate others and shares her struggle to succeed by discussing her childhood growing up in an overpoliced neighborhood in Virginia. As a child, Rodgers’s mother supported her involvement in golf and eventually basketball. The loss of her mother, brother, and father, as well as siblings in jail and frequently moving homes, didn’t cultivate an environment for Rodgers to thrive, but through support, determination, and a lot of natural skill, she found her way to the basketball court. Although the writing style is not cohesive and there are some confusing time lines, the book is easy to read, and many readers will find the vernacular relatable. It ends with advice that provides hope to readers who might not see a clear path to their dream. Rodgers’s childhood and conflicts are ones many readers will be able to identify with and find hope in her motivation. Her motivation model is based on being able to take constructive criticism, that “someone thinks you are good enough to correct.”
VERDICT This book does contain some swearing, including derogatory terms, and potentially triggering life events such as death, imprisonment, and physical abuse. Although this work would best suit middle schoolers, some caution should be taken for sensitive readers.

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