Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The Sweetest Thing
Egmont USA, 2011
Source: Received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
While reading this, I felt like I was reading a lot of other modern YA contemporaries. There's a heroine who alternately annoys and resonates with me; problematic parents; hot popular boy who's really a player; male best friend who secretly has a crush on her; socially unpopular; and somewhat weird interest that isolates her from others.
In this case, Sheridan's "weird" interest is in decorating cakes. Although I never seek out any of those cake/cupcake decorating shows, whenever I find one on the TV, I end up entranced. I'm fascinated with the amount of effort put into creating these beautiful canvases that will soon be eaten and destroyed. So gorgeous and yet so ephemeral! This was definitely my favorite part.
But the rest of it was often frustrating. Sheridan longs for the mother who abandoned her when she was young, assuring herself that her mother would return soon. Meanwhile her father has always been there. However because Sheridan was telling the story, for most of the book, her father seems just as awful as the mother with cruel words and generally ignoring Sheridan's emotional needs. By the time this biased opinion is revealed, I already loathed the father as much as the mother and didn't want to change my mind. Additionally Sheridan frequently runs from having to make tough decisions, which rings true to her age but aggravated me.
Then there's the love interest. Sheridan has long had a crush on Ethan who finally starts to pay attention to her, only to later have her interest diverted to her long-time best friend Jack. I hate that Jack didn't have the nerve to say anything to Sheridan until it looked like she was happy with Ethan; I really hate that trope. Ethan is later revealed to be somewhat of a famewhore player while Jack is oh-so-perfect, something I called pretty much from the start. And Sheridan has basically only two friends: Jack and Lori, both of whom she shunts aside when things get tough. Is it really that hard to confide in your friends? And is it that hard to be friendly with lots of people?
However there were some other aspects I liked. I loved the small-town in which Sheridan resides. She works at her grandmother's bakery and also sometimes at her father's restaurant, decorating cakes and garnering some level of fame. There's also a bit of religion as Sheridan is nominally Catholic and has several conversations with a priest that help her. I love when religious beliefs are worked into largely secular YA novels without being preachy; need more of those!
Overall: A fairly typical YA contemporary with some sweet things and some sour.