Summary: Stuck volunteering in a smelly nursing home to complete a forty hour requirement for graduation, Sunny’s initial reluctance is tempered by a talent for taking care of the residents. Her position gives her a new perspective on growing older, and her burgeoning relationship with Cole, the grandson of one of the seniors, changes her. A charge of manslaughter when Cole’s grandmother chokes to death on three pieces of candy means Sunny is facing time in a detention centre, but the trial itself helps her sort through her experiences to find a way to move on with her life.
Number of Pages: 219
Age Range: 13-14
Review: I’ve read two books by Sylvia McNicoll now (Crush. Candy. Corpse. and Dying to Go Viral) and what I love about them is that despite everything that happens to her main characters, they are pure of heart. It seems funny to write but although Sunny is caught up in a manslaughter court case where she is the one on trial, it’s easy to see that underneath everything she has good intentions. She may be misguided at times, but she’s still inherently good, just like her mother says.
I loved details like Sunny being unable to talk about her mother’s breast cancer and dyeing pink streaks in her hair instead, giving the lipstick she bought as a bingo prize to Jeannette, and using her own ring to replace the wedding ring borrowed by one of the residents in the home. Set against the backdrop of a nail-biting court case, Crush. Candy. Corpse. has both intrigue and heart.
I think what I love most though is that McNicoll’s story is layered. Yes, it’s about whether or not Sunny is guilty of the crime she’s been accused of, but it’s also simply the story of a girl coming of age. The death of her grandmother when she was six and her mother’s bout with breast cancer have affected her deeply, and heavily influence her choices in the book. I loved the glimpse McNicoll allows her readers into the depth of what at first seems like a superficial character.
It’s a well-paced read with substance, and I’d recommend it to young female teen readers.
“It had been a great day. I felt good about how I handled Jeannette. Maybe forced volunteer work was okay after all. It opened your eyes to helping different kinds of people, ones you wouldn’t normally meet.” – Sunny from Crush. Candy. Corpse. by Sylvia McNicoll, pages 124-125
“‘Oh, he didn’t sign. I walked in right behind him so I know.’ Funny how the truth sounds like a lie sometimes. I can lie way better than I tell the truth.” – Sunny from Crush. Candy. Corpse. by Sylvia McNicoll, page 126
“I watched his profile – curls softening a hard jawline, smoky brown eyes that could melt you. I didn’t believe him because he lied all the time, to his parents and his teachers, to his friends, too. When the truth was inconvenient, when it was uncomfortable, when it meant trouble – if deception smoothed things over, then Donovan lied. Still, I didn’t want to think he stole the pin from Jeannette.” – Sunny from Crush. Candy. Corpse. by Sylvia McNicoll, pages 184-185
“She sighs. ‘What is guilty?’ She reaches out and touches the left side of my chest with one hand. ‘Your heart is good. I know this. Your father and your brother know this, too.'” – Sunny’s mother from Crush. Candy. Corpse. by Sylvia McNicoll, page 209
“Before bed, my mother and I sip a cup of herbal tea that’s supposed to make you sleep. My mother hugs me for a long time. She loves me, likes me too, no matter what. I think knowing that helps me sleep best of all.” – Sunny from Crush. Candy. Corpse. by Sylvia McNicoll, page 211