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2023 - Shortlisted


Judges' Comments

Persephone’s world has been knocked off its axis by her father’s sudden death and her equally sudden diabetes diagnosis. She believes the two are related, the latter a punishment for her callous treatment of her dad. Finger-prick tests, carb counts and insulin injections dominate her life … until she discovers a dead body in the bush. Finding out what Sylvia did to deserve her fate becomes an unhealthy obsession. 

Carly Nugent’s Sugar is a captivating and well-crafted novel about the manifestations of grief and guilt, and how we come to terms with the unfair hands life sometimes deals. It’s bold, unflinching and humorous. The characters crackle on the page, especially Persephone. Readers are immersed in their narrator’s overwhelming new normal, scenes are bookended by blood-sugar readings rising, falling. As fires rage and Persephone loses control, Nugent never does. Young adult readers will no doubt relish the story’s honesty and savour its ultimate optimism.