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Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

IF IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE—WATCH OUT.

Interests/Topics: cruise ships, celebrities, romance, media, addiction, friendship

Curriculum Connections: English, Health and Physical Education (Addiction)

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: I really don’t like cruises. I’ve only been once (and maybe shouldn’t form my opinion based on only that experience), but it was so bad that I’ll probably never talk myself into giving it a try again. Solid ground is just too important to me.

The thing about cruise ships is that you have nowhere to go when things get bad, or, in my case, rough. Rough waters, that is. Seventeen-foot waves, that is. Yep, you read that right. Good times.

Laurel, in Sweet, feels differently about cruising. She’s about to embark on the cruise of a lifetime with her best friend Viv on a boat stocked with everything needed for a perfect vacation: beautiful décor, gorgeous celebrities, 15-ounce steaks. Best of all, their cruise is celebrating the launch of Solu—a new artificial sweetener that guarantees rapid weight loss. Solu is almost too good to be true and Laurel and Viv get to try it before the rest of the world.

Everything is perfect for Laurel until the boat leaves the dock. The movement makes Laurel seasick (I can relate) and she misses the first two days of desserts and sweet drinks which is why it is suddenly so easy for her to see that something is drastically, terribly, grotesquely wrong with nearly everyone else on board.

And I thought my cruise was bad.

Flavour: “’Laurel, I think I’m already losing weight,’ [Viv] says….And I look at her. And…she has. I can see her belly’s a little less bellyish. Her thighs look leaner. ‘Wow,’ I say. ‘I guess that stuff really works.’ ‘When you’re feeling better, you’re taking it, right? I mean, you have to!’ [Viv says]….If I say anything bad about Solu, I’ll hurt her feelings. Her dad paid for us both to come. She’s counting on this cruise being a huge, life-transforming experience.” (65)

“’Can you image?’ [she] says to me, a huge grin on her face. ‘We can eat whatever we want! Solu will take the weight right off.’ All the passengers are laughing at eating with gusto. Maybe I’m wrong about Solu. It does seem to work. And it’s making these people really happy.” (99-100)

“A man shouts in victory. He comes out of the galley holding a sack over his head, and everyone screams and cheers. He rips it open and powder falls and wafts out in a cloud and it’s insanity. People diving and shoveling it into their mouths and licking the floor and scraping it out of the carpet with their fingernails.” (132)

“’Can you tell us how you got Solu past the FDA?’ [he asked]…. ‘Solu is not a drug. It’s not regulated by the FDA.’” (179)

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