Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Title: Recipe For Disaster
Author: Maureen Fergus
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Genre: Young Adult
Rating:: 5 Crowns
Synopsis from Amazon.com:
Ninth-grader Francie Freewater is most at home in the kitchen: dashing from the counter to the stove, perfecting her recipes, and performing a cooking show for Nana's parrot, Rory. When she's not hanging out with her friend Holly, she's watching celebrity chef Lorenzo Larue's show with Nana and entering his cooking contests, as well as keeping busy making a fool out of herself in an attempt to impress her crush and chemistry partner, Tate. The status quo is shaken, however, when a new girl at school squeezes into Holly and Francie's friendship and wreaks havoc on Francie's boyfriend ambitions. She has started playing the clarinet in order to be in Holly's class, and a music competition paves the way for the teen to travel for free to the same town as Lorenzo Larue's traveling show. One part Alice McKinley, two parts Georgia Nicolson, Francie is a delight. Her own special brand of humor touches every aspect of the tale, from her inner monologue during Lorenzo's shirtless cooking to the way she responds to Harold Horvath's advances and how she lights her beautiful hair on fire with a Bunsen burner.
I picked this book up while standing in line at our library while waiting to check out. The cover caught my eye, and I was looking for a young adult book to read. My first thought was that it was going to be a fairly cliched book, given the description given on the book jacket. I planned on reading it anyway because even cliched stories can be great. Imagine my surprise when the story turned out to be nothing of a cliche at all, and fresh in a completely familiar way.
The main character, Francie, narrated the story with humor and the right amount of self-awareness for a ninth grader. The entire story felt right for the age range of the characters as well. What I mean by that is simply that the author did not try to make her characters mature before they were ready. Francie's interest in boys, for example, was mostly innocent with just the right touch of curiousity about the opposite sex. The friendship triangle that develops when a new girl arrives at school felt very real too.
Unlike so many young adult stories that I have read, Francie has a nice relationship with her parents and her grandmother. The relationships aren't perfect or sugar coated, but she mostly appreciates and respects her parents. I especially loved the relationship Francie has with her grandmother. The two of them share an affinity for a certain celebrity chef who cooks with his shirt off. I also like how Francie even has a relationship with her grandmother's bird, whom she hates.
Francie's baking is more than just a hobby for her in this story, it is her passion. She uses it as a part time job, selling her creations in her parents' cafe. And yet she has a hard time admitting her passion to anyone but her best friend. The new girl makes fun of Francie, and when Francie isn't chosen to be part of the celebrity chef's traveling show she actually begins to question whether or not she wants to keep baking. In the end, she discovers that not only is she good enough to keep baking, but she doesn't need anyone's approval but her own to know she is good enough.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good, sweet read. It brings back memories of what it means to be a young teenager trying to figure out who you are.
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Royal Reviewer Angela Renee at 9:53 AM