Monday, March 7, 2011

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

The Sweetest Thing
Rating: 4/5 Hoots

Release Date: May 10, 2011

Summary from  
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.

 My Review:

The Sweetest Thing is as yummy as it sounds! Main character Sheridan Wells is at her best when she is decorating cakes- the rest of the time her mind is overloaded with missing her mom and wondering why she hasn't heard from her in years, dealing with the possibility of her Dad becoming an Extreme Cuisine TV star and forcing leaving her perfect small town world behind, and figuring out the intentions of two crushworthy guys.

Sheridan is far from perfect, she can be immature and short-tempered, but she is so real and lovable that readers will want to reach through the pages and give her a hug. She is a well-rounded character with flaws and strengths, and it is easy to see the motivations for her actions as the reader experiences heartache, longing, confusion and frustration along with her. I loved how the author did not just gloss over Sheridan's passion for cake decorating- it is such an important aspect of who she is and her connection to her mother and I enjoyed reading the descriptions of her creations and how she made them.

Another thing I loved about The Sweetest Thing was the well-developed cast of supporting characters. Nanny, Mr. Roz, Lori, Jack and Ethan were all fleshed out characters who felt very real. You can feel the warmth of Nanny's comforting, steadfast love for Sheridan and Mr. Roz's sunshiney affection for her.  Lori is a great best friend- funny, honest and supportive. And Jack is a swoon-worthy best friend turned boyfriend with great hair and a knack for reading Sheridan's mind. (Love the sweet birthday gift he gives her too, but I won't spoil the surprise). I thought it was great that Ethan was not portrayed as a popular guy foil. He may not have had the best motivations for dating Sheridan, but he seemed to genuinely care for her and tried to do the right thing, although he sometimes seemed conflicted about what that might be. Father Growly and Mrs. Evans the art teacher were supportive too- I really liked the mix of peers and adults that cared about Sheridan and formed an extended family for her.

The Sweetest Thing had lots of touching moments too. The romance was sweet and well-paced, and seemed to develop naturally.  Some of the most moving passages involved Sheridan by herself, coming to terms with the fact that she may not have a perfect family with a doting Mom & Dad, but she did have lots of wonderful people in her life who do love her. Sheridan's relationship with her father is complex and damaged but it is healing by the end of the book, and there are some tear-jerker moments when they begin to patch things up. One of my favorite lines  from the book was "It's like I've spent the last eight years working so hard to remember my mother that I forgot my father." Mandelski captures the nuances of their complicated relationship really well.

Although parts of the novel hurt to read because I felt for Sheridan and the painful experiences she goes through, I really loved this book. It had a great balance of interesting characters, family drama, romance and self discovery, which I think almost any young person can relate to. I highly recommend this book for contemporary fiction readers and fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this book; love this review.

    Even if it did give me a huge, undeniable longing for cake. (The book. not your review!)