Monday, August 11, 2014

YA Review: The Sweetest Thing

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

Published: May 10th, 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: ARC
Page Count: 334 in mine, 336 in the finished edition according to goodreads.
Part of a series? No, I don't think so.
Got via: Sent to me by the publisher for review, and yes, that's how far behind on reviews I am.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Summary (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.

Review: This was totally the sweetest thing!

Okay, that wasn't even funny, but I had to do it. Fittingly, it was a very sweet book. The back of my ARC recommends it for Sarah Desson fans and I've only read Along for the Ride, but I feel like that would be a good comparison. The Sweetest Thing maybe veers a little younger (ages 12 and up are recommended on the back as well), but that's nice. It works and it's refreshing in a way. I read it in basically one sitting and I think it'd be great for summer reading, outside, at the beach, or for summer reading tweens, even though it is set during the winter.

Plot Talk: The plot is simple, but not weak or boring. The summary pretty much covers it. Dad's getting a cooking show, Sheridan's not into it, which is a biggie because the pilot is about her Sweet 16th, boys happen. It is, at times, pretty predictable, I won't lie. (I never lie to you guys.) It follows the archetypes of this genre pretty solidly. There are no major twists or turns, and it never really surprised me. But it was solid and familiar in a rather nice way. It's like how you don't go into a rom-com movie expecting a radically different plot, but you still enjoy the good ones.

Does that make sense? Hope so!

Characters: Sheridan is almost sixteen and very, very naive. She actually reads somewhat younger than almost sixteen because she is so naive. And also at least a little spoiled and maybe a little immature. But, to be honest, she's probably a lot more realistic than a lot of teenagers in media. Shockingly, teenagers can be immature! Sheridan is also basically obsessed with cakes, because it was the only thing her mother kind of left her, or at least the memories of her mom teaching her to make and decorate them.

Obviously, she's a bit of a mess.

But over the course of the book, she learns to care about more than cake and grow as a person and all that good stuff.

I had a lot of moments of not liking her dad very much. Getting a TV show is a big deal for him, yes, but he didn't even consider Sheridan's feelings on the matter, especially since he was basically ready to force her into being a part of it. If she was going to be involved, he should have talked to her about what she wanted. Not everyone wants to be on TV! It was just plain inconsiderate. And then the possibility of a move. Not all schools are the same curriculum - a move in the middle of her sophomore year or the beginning of her junior year could mean major educational changes that could leave her struggling to catch up at a time where that could have major ramifications for her future.

Her dad also flat-out neglected and ignored her, and at times was really mean to her. He called her, at different points in the book, an ungrateful brat, a real piece of work. Like, dude, you're the adult in the situation. Act like it.

The guys she liked (there's a love triangle) were pretty average. You've read a story with characters like the, probably. I actually had a few times where I didn't like the one, Jack, but I'll go into that more later.

One character I actually wanted to see more of was Sheridan's friend Lori. I love female friendships in YA and there wasn't enough time spent on theirs for my tastes.

I actually really liked the cast of characters for the most part, though. There was a little too much of the "mean girl" thing with the character Haley, but I'm not fond of that in general. It tends to be very shallow writing, and this book was not an exception. Most of the other small characters were colourful and fun and interesting. For sure, The Sweetest Thing tended to shine in the character department.

PG-13 stuff: Some mild language. Nothing terrible. My ARC, like I said earlier, says 12 and up and I personally would be perfectly fine with that.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: Okay, here's the thing. It's a little spoilery so maybe skip to the "Cover Comments" section" if you don't want to know.

At one point, Jack, Sheridan's other best friend, basically gets angry at her for liking another guy and dating him. He likes her, but has never said anything and somehow it's her fault for not noticing. This is the girl who thinks about basically nothing but cake, remember. And maybe the guy she was dating would turn out to be a jerk or break her heart - but it was her heart to be broken, not Jack's. And I understand being concerned for your friend when they might be dating someone who might not be the best for them, but he basically berated her for liking a guy he didn't approve of and it wasn't very nice at all.

And both Jack and Ethan use the "you're not like other girls" line on Sheridan, Ethan especially as a compliment, but the thing is - that's not a compliment. Girls are wonderful, varied, and amazing, and you should never be ashamed of being like other girls. And guys should never put down other girls as a way to compliment you.

That was something I really didn't like.

Cover comments: It's super cute. It's very colourful and bright and I think many of the readers who would love this would be drawn to the cover. Some readers might be a little embarrassed though. But I guess that's one reason why e-readers are awesome, right? Anyways, I like it.

Conclusion: The Sweetest Thing never really managed to surprise me, but it was a fun, emotionally compelling read. I may or may not have teared up a little at the end, even, but I'll never tell. (Totally did.) I loved the family story much more than the romance, honestly, but all in all, it was a sweet book. I think it'd be a great summer/beach read. Three and a half roses.



Other notes:

- Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention this, but - Sheridan apparently has a flip phone? I mean, I know this is a late review, but I don't think 2011 was THAT long ago!
- ALSO. This book is set in a town in St. Mary's but I think it was supposed to be fictional. There is however a St. Mary's river in Michigan and it would make sense for it to be set in Michigan because Mackinac is supposed to be only 5 hours away and eventually Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario is mentioned as... I think around the same distance. And Chicago is mentioned as being within driving distance, but being a long drive. So Michigan makes sense, but I can't remember if they ever said it exactly.
- BUT the neat thing about that is - I used to live in Sault Ste. Marie!!! Isn't that the coolest thing???
- Okay, that's it.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

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