Jackie has left suburban Adelaide chasing her dreams of being a fashion designer. She travels from London to Paris for the weekend, thinking that she will show her marsupial and native fauna clothing ideas to a famous fashion designer. It is in Paris that the adventures begin. Jackie loses her folio and chases it across Europe, ending up in Afghanistan. Instead of swearing, she says sugar, hence the title.
Being a wanna-be fashion designer, Jackie is always snappily dressed:
I had a wash and changed into my grey velvet hot-pants and green pigskin boots... my maroon tights perfectly matched the swirls in my paisley blouse, and my over the knee high heeled boots looked great.As she moves from Paris heading gradually east, we see Jackie transform and mature. Clothes are a constant motif throughout the story, but as she sees the poverty and conditions some people live in, she realises that there are more important things than fashion. Friendship and loyalty are two themes running through the book.
As I said earlier, the time period would be very unfamiliar for today's YA readers, the lack of communication with family when you're overseas is certainly a thing of the past. Jackie sends aerograms, doesn't telephone because of the expense and she doesn't have a camera either. in the endnotes Carole Wilkinson says:
When we travelled through the Middle East, photographic film was expensive and the need to record one's life in minute detail belonged to the distant future. We took ten photos.
It's a bit of a shame that this ability to be out of touch has gone; even when you're on the other side of the world today, you can still read emails, and your parents can be in touch immediately. I think that the setting, the time especially, would interest readers.
The places and landscapes are also especially well written. The sort of risk taking adventures that Jackie has make you want to stuff your hot-pants and thigh high boots into a yellow rucksack and hit the overland Hippie Trail.
Four Hoots/ Five
Recommended for older readers, being hippies there are some drug experiences...