Friday, July 5, 2013
The Secret Ingredient
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I feel like this is another YA contemporary about which I hadn't heard much. Luckily that tends to work in my favor as I don't enter the book with expectations, instead being prepared to just enjoy whatever comes. What I did know was that this book would feature its protagonist cooking a lot, something that really pleased me. Unfortunately I kept wanting recipes and this book did not provide any. I feel like I am encouraged to give cooking (and baking, my first love) more of a shot but I'd like a bit more guidance before attempting.
Anyway the plot for this one is less focused than your typical dystopia or fantasy. Basically we have Olivia going through the summer before senior year: she's getting her first real job in a casting agent's office, her adoptive gay dads are having money struggles, and she's starting to wonder about her birth mother in addition to creating a plan to pursue her love of cooking and first romance troubles.
One of my big concluding impressions of this book is that it is light. Yes, it does look at some more serious topics but the writing and plotting is very smooth and flows well. It's on the shorter side and I read it pretty quickly. Although I am thinking about it now, a few days after finishing, it didn't have anything substantial that will continue to resonate with me for the rest of the year like my favorite books did.
I pretty much liked everything but didn't love anything. It was great to see Olivia as a child of adoption and the easy acceptance of her dads for what they were (although as is shown, sadly not everyone is cool with it). I liked the cooking aspect, which plays a huge role. I liked Olivia's best friend and her support of Olivia at multiple key points. I wasn't too thrilled with how the romance plays out but if you're someone who doesn't want too much romance, you might be pleased with its representation here (I sometimes wish for more casual relationships in YA but really I do want the one true love intensity that we most often get.)
Overall: A perfectly pleasant read-fine for the beach or other summer locales. It just didn't knock my socks off :(
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