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Candy and Me: A Girl's Tale of Life, Love, and Sugar

Overview

As a seven-year-old child, Hilary Liftin poured herself a glass (or two) of powdered sugar. Those forbidden cups soon escalated to pound bags of candy corn and multiple packets of dry cocoa mix, launching the epic love affair between Hilary and all things sweet. In Candy and Me: A Love Story, Liftin chronicles her life through candy memories and milestones. As a high school student, Hilary used candy to get through track meets, bad hair days, after-school jobs, and her first not-so-great love. Her sweet tooth ...
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Candy and Me: A Love Story

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Overview

As a seven-year-old child, Hilary Liftin poured herself a glass (or two) of powdered sugar. Those forbidden cups soon escalated to pound bags of candy corn and multiple packets of dry cocoa mix, launching the epic love affair between Hilary and all things sweet. In Candy and Me: A Love Story, Liftin chronicles her life through candy memories and milestones. As a high school student, Hilary used candy to get through track meets, bad hair days, after-school jobs, and her first not-so-great love. Her sweet tooth followed her to college, where she tried to suppress the crackle of Smarties wrappers in morning classes. Through life's highs and lows, her devotion has never crashed -- candy has been a constant companion and a refuge that sustained her.
As Liftin recounts her record-setting candy consumption, loves and friendships unfold in a funny and heartbreaking series of bittersweet revelations and restorative meditations. Hilary survives a profound obsession with jelly beans and a camp counselor, a forgettable fling with Skittles at a dot-com, and a messy breakup healed by a friendship forged over Circus Peanuts. Through thick and thin, sweet and sour, Hilary confronts the challenges of conversation hearts and the vagaries of boyfriends, searching for that perfect balance of love and sugar.
Written with a fresh dry humor that will immediately absorb you into Liftin's sweet obsessions and remind you of your own, Candy and Me unwraps the meaning found in the universal desire for connection and confection. Treat yourself to Candy and Me -- being bad never read so good.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743254410
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 5/25/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 0.55 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Hilary Liftin

Hilary Liftin is the coauthor of Dear Exile. She grew up in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Yale University in 1991. She lives with her husband, Chris Harris, in Los Angeles and/or Brooklyn.

Good To Know

In our interview, Liftin shared a few fun facts:

"I started keeping a journal in the third grade, writing doggerel. I always wrote in one of those clothbound books you get at bookstores, almost every day throughout high school and college. I credit journal keeping with my memory of my youth, which is very complete. Also, I think because the journals were private and never judged, I never have any kind of writer's block. I can always write something, even if it's terrible."

"My first job was working for the legendary publisher Sam Lawrence, who first published Richard Yates, Kurt Vonnegut, Jayne Anne Phillips, Tim O'Brien, Tillie Olsen, Susan Minot, and many other amazing writers. On my third day of work, Sam told me, ‘Publishing used to be fun, but you've ruined it for me.' "

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    1. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 12, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1991

Read an Excerpt

From: Part One

Sweet Tooth

Sugar

Before there was candy, there was sugar. My brother and I started staying without a babysitter when I was seven and he was eight. We had a barter/bribe relationship: for every serving of sugar I ate, Eric could stay up an extra hour. We pledged not to tell on each other to our parents.

As soon as they walked out the door, I would pour several tablespoons of confectioner's powdered sugar into a Dixie cup. I eventually figured out that if I ran a few drops of water or milk into the cup and mixed it up, semi-soft pellets formed. The texture of these pellets was dreamy. Sometimes I would add a drop of vanilla extract and a bit of butter. Then, in front of the (also forbidden) TV, I would dip a spoon into the sugar and feed myself.

Our suburban Maryland family room had a pale brick fireplace, wall-to-wall shag carpeting, and psychedelic pillows. Eric reclined on the couch and I sat on the velour lounge chair. We watched the Osmonds, Rhoda, The Wonderful World of Disney. On any night that I started eating sugar, which was every night my parents didn't hire a babysitter, I would have refill after refill. I ate it furtively, afraid that my parents would walk in unexpectedly. I loved the way the sugar became sweeter just before it dissolved on my tongue. Watching illicit TV while eating sugar became a habit. The combined relaxation, indulgence, and jolt of forbidden sweetness that I found in my candy-leisure moments were forever established as sensations to pursue. If Charles Schulz had created a comic-strip version of me at seven, I would have been surrounded by a cloud, but unlike Pigpen's dirty cumulus, my cloud would have been a pure, refined puff of powdered sugar.

At some point Eric stopped calculating the late night hours he was accumulating and threw up his hands.

"I can't believe you're eating all that sugar," he said. "You'll be sick." But I didn't feel sick. Rather, I was astounded that Eric had no apparent interest in the bounty I had discovered. I don't remember ever getting caught or in trouble, although I know my mother must have had some idea that this was going on. I also never wondered why there was always powdered sugar in the house — even though my mother never baked. It was only later that I discovered that she herself had a secret habit. But eventually she decided not to stock sugar in the pantry anymore, and I had to move on.

Copyright © 2003 by Hilary Liftin

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Introduction

Candy and Me

A Love Story

Hilary Liftin

Reading Group Guide

1. Hilary's memories are attached to different kinds of candy. As she writes about Bottle Caps, "when a good thing comes along, memories have a propensity for attaching themselves to it." Did candy play a similar role in your life to its role in Hilary's life? Is there another lens through which you recall events in your life?

2. The subtitle of Candy and Me is "A Love Story" and candy is a love of Hilary's life, both real and metaphoric. How does her relationship with candy evolve in the course of the book? Do the different "eras" of her life resonate with your own passage from one life stage to another?

3. What are your favorite candies? What are your family's favorites? Did/does your family have seasonal or ethnic favorites for different holidays or do you have a single favorite that you have to have daily or weekly? Have these favorites changed over the years? Are your childhood favorites different from what you like now? If so, why do you think that is?

4. Have you ever forged a friendship or bond over candy or some other food, the way Hilary does with cocoa powder and Circus Peanuts? Have you ever forged a bond over a common dislike of a certain food? Have you ever had a disagreement or a fight over the relative value of one candy or food over another? Which is superior, dark chocolate or white chocolate?

5. What are some of the ways that foods help us connect with other people or distinguish ourselves from other people? Do you trust people more who like the candies or foods that you like?

6. What makes a really great candy? What do Junior Mints represent for Hilary? How are they(metaphorically) different from Circus Peanuts? What about the candies that repeat themselves, like Bottle Caps and Marshmallow Eggs? What candy likes and dislikes repeat themselves in your life?

7. Hilary alternately calls candy "evil," and "a simple joy." Which is it? Is Hilary's relationship to it healthy or sick? Is addiction always undesirable or can it lead to a deeper understanding of life and self?

8. Hilary's parents try different approaches to dealing with her obsession: They forbid candy; they give her an unlimited supply of butter and sugar; her mother tells her she'll be fat. Do you agree with their tactics as she describes them? Does she really seem out of control in her eating? What would you do if you had a child who wouldn't stop eating candy? How do you put limits on your own indulgence in candy or foods or activities that you love?

9. In Candy and Me, the chapters are very short. Hilary doesn't tell how her affair with her camp counselor ends, she only says "One person moves away, or the other gets bored, or they run out of things to talk about." Is she holding back critical information? Does a complete picture of a life emerge? How is this personal history told differently from other memoirs?

10. Some chapters, like "Trix," are trivial, and some, like "The Assortment" and "Fudge" deal with serious, sad events. Is this jarring to you? Can candy as a metaphor effectively straddle light and heavy issues?

11. Hilary marries Chris, the man who wins her with Bottle Caps. Does Chris feed or quell her candy addiction? Do you have friends or partners who make it easy or hard for you to stay balanced in how you live or what you eat?

12. What critical candies were left out of the book? Does chocolate deserve more attention? Is there a difference between people who eat chocolates and people who eat sugary candies?

13. The chapter "I Know What You're Thinking" says "What about tooth decay, weight gain, acne, diabetes? I don't want to talk about any of those things." Why does Hilary address the reader directly here? Were you thinking what she guesses? Did she deal with these issues in the book? Why or why not?

14. At the end of the book, Hilary says of Meltaways, "The three of us make a fine pair." What is she saying about her relationship with candy at this point in her life? Is it resolved? How does a couple best manage different tastes?

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Candy and Me

A Love Story

Hilary Liftin

Reading Group Guide

1. Hilary's memories are attached to different kinds of candy. As she writes about Bottle Caps, "when a good thing comes along, memories have a propensity for attaching themselves to it." Did candy play a similar role in your life to its role in Hilary's life? Is there another lens through which you recall events in your life?

2. The subtitle of Candy and Me is "A Love Story" and candy is a love of Hilary's life, both real and metaphoric. How does her relationship with candy evolve in the course of the book? Do the different "eras" of her life resonate with your own passage from one life stage to another?

3. What are your favorite candies? What are your family's favorites? Did/does your family have seasonal or ethnic favorites for different holidays or do you have a single favorite that you have to have daily or weekly? Have these favorites changed over the years? Are your childhood favorites different from what you like now? If so, why do you think that is?

4. Have you ever forged a friendship or bond over candy or some other food, the way Hilary does with cocoa powder and Circus Peanuts? Have you ever forged a bond over a common dislike of a certain food? Have you ever had a disagreement or a fight over the relative value of one candy or food over another? Which is superior, dark chocolate or white chocolate?

5. What are some of the ways that foods help us connect with other people or distinguish ourselves from other people? Do you trust people more who like the candies or foods that you like?

6. What makes a really great candy? What do Junior Mints represent for Hilary? How are they (metaphorically) different from Circus Peanuts? What about the candies that repeat themselves, like Bottle Caps and Marshmallow Eggs? What candy likes and dislikes repeat themselves in your life?

7. Hilary alternately calls candy "evil," and "a simple joy." Which is it? Is Hilary's relationship to it healthy or sick? Is addiction always undesirable or can it lead to a deeper understanding of life and self?

8. Hilary's parents try different approaches to dealing with her obsession: They forbid candy; they give her an unlimited supply of butter and sugar; her mother tells her she'll be fat. Do you agree with their tactics as she describes them? Does she really seem out of control in her eating? What would you do if you had a child who wouldn't stop eating candy? How do you put limits on your own indulgence in candy or foods or activities that you love?

9. In Candy and Me, the chapters are very short. Hilary doesn't tell how her affair with her camp counselor ends, she only says "One person moves away, or the other gets bored, or they run out of things to talk about." Is she holding back critical information? Does a complete picture of a life emerge? How is this personal history told differently from other memoirs?

10. Some chapters, like "Trix," are trivial, and some, like "The Assortment" and "Fudge" deal with serious, sad events. Is this jarring to you? Can candy as a metaphor effectively straddle light and heavy issues?

11. Hilary marries Chris, the man who wins her with Bottle Caps. Does Chris feed or quell her candy addiction? Do you have friends or partners who make it easy or hard for you to stay balanced in how you live or what you eat?

12. What critical candies were left out of the book? Does chocolate deserve more attention? Is there a difference between people who eat chocolates and people who eat sugary candies?

13. The chapter "I Know What You're Thinking" says "What about tooth decay, weight gain, acne, diabetes? I don't want to talk about any of those things." Why does Hilary address the reader directly here? Were you thinking what she guesses? Did she deal with these issues in the book? Why or why not?

14. At the end of the book, Hilary says of Meltaways, "The three of us make a fine pair." What is she saying about her relationship with candy at this point in her life? Is it resolved? How does a couple best manage different tastes?

Read More Show Less

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

    Wow

    Wow great book, but im confused. Is it true or what?

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