March 18, 2011

Review: THE SWEETEST THING by Christina Mandelski

THE SWEETEST THING by Christina Mandelski
Young Adult
Hardcover, 336 pages
May 10, 2011

From Goodreads:

In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she's decorating a cake. Unfortunately everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable.

But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems - only her dad's about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed.

Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients.

The cover: Multicolored sprinkles in the shape of a heart, the soft lilac at the top... this cover caught my eye not only because it made me crave sugar cookies (always a good thing), it is softer and sweeter (pun intended) than most YA covers I've seen recently.

The book: THE SWEETEST THING was as refreshing as a cold fountain Coke at the beach. Since I've begun reading YA, I feel like I've read incarnations of every paranormal or legendary creature there is, every adventure with world-wide consequences possible, every horrific rendering of our future imaginable. Granted, I've yet to read many of the great YA contemporary novels, but SWEETEST is a lovely change from the doom and gloom, dirt and dust, that is currently in vogue.

Sheridan (and I do love that name, especially since there is a reason her parents' picked it) is a normal girl with a very dysfunctional family, a best friend who might just be her perfect guy, and a reputation as "Cake Girl." She can whip up cakes in her grandmother's bakery with more skill than The Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes combined, but when it comes to dealing with her mother's abandonment, Sheridan just can't let go. I waivered in my opinion of Sheridan's mother, who is off the page for most of the book, wondering if she could possibly as good as Sheridan believes, or as awful as those surrounding her hint. Sheridan's father shielded her from the truth about her mother for many years, and when the truth finally does come out, I appreciated the complexity and skill with which Mandelski reconciles Sheridan's hopes to fact.

It was pure fun reading the descriptions of Sheridan's cakes. It made me ache to pick up my apron and a spoon and get in the kitchen to attempt some of Cake Girl's gum paste, modeling chocolate, and fondant confections.

There is a subplot about Sheridan's religious faith that I find lacking in many books (except for the many dytopians I've read recently that look back and laugh at their idiot ancestors' antiquated beliefs) and therefore enjoyed deeply. Sheridan's question of faith is handled with a light touch, and very subtely at that, but it was nice to see faith wrestled with in a YA novel.

If you are looking for a quiet, fun novel that proves worlds don't have to crumble to tell a good story, this one might be for you.

Recommended especially for: Lovers of sweet contemporary romance, fans of baking shows.

ARC courtesy of Star Book Tours.


Yahong said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Abby! You're right in that there's a TON of paranormal out there now, so I'll definitely be picking this one up.

Pam Harris said...

This is so cute, and it comes out the day before my b-day. Hmm, who should I ask to buy it for me? :)

Alicia Gregoire said...

Adding to goodreads now.

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