Monday, December 30, 2013

Pizza, Love and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

Henry Holt and Co, 2012

 Sophie Nicolaides has grown up around food. As the daughter of an Greek father and Italian mother, she knows all the flavors, even the ones in between. Every night she goes to her dad’s restaurant to help out with folding napkins and silverware, but her best days are when she’s helping in the kitchen.

 Sophie is resigned to a life of her family’s restaurant, only dreaming of what opportunities are available after she graduates. Until then, she’s content to hang out with her best friend Alex, even though he’s more family than friend. Well, maybe not family either…when he comes to the house or restaurant, Sophie feels butterflies in her stomach. She can’t stand the girls that flirt with Alex. She, well, she likes him more than a friend even if she won’t tell him. It’s another one of her dreams she can dream about.

 But one day, Alex comes in to the restaurant and rocks Sophie’s world. A popular food network is accepting applications for a new reality television series called Teen Test Kitchen, where teen contestants around the country will vie for a top spot, which includes a scholarship and an opportunity to attend the most prestigious culinary school. Sophie doesn’t think she’ll even try out, but with the excitement Alex creates makes her go for it. With her cooking her best lamb dish, Sophie makes it to the challenge and is off to California to compete. It’s her first time away from home, and she’s not quite sure what to expect.

 Being in a reality show and away from home is more than what Sophie bargains for. The competition is cut-throat, a good looking French student is attracting her attention, making her question her relationships, and a long-lost aunt that will reconnect Sophie to her mother, who died when Sophie was younger.

 Kathryn Williams writes a light romance for teens that creates balance between Sophie’s story and the side stories of the other contestants and characters in the book that are part of Sophie’s world. From her Italian father to the handsome and suave French student, Williams puts in more than enough flair to make this book come alive. It looks at the bright and dark side of reality television as well as all types of teens from around the country, including everyone from a California blonde to the Madison Avenue trust fund guy.
     Williams intersperses her narrative with authentic recipes readers can try out and this also makes this book stand out from other romance novels. Give this to readers who can’t get enough romance in their lives.

Paired non-fiction reading: any cookbook (of course) but also Andrew Zimmern’s Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild and Wonderful Foods or Carl Warner’s Food Landscapes.

If you like this, then you’ll like… anything written by author Siobhan Vivian and Maureen Johnson’s Girl at Sea or Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes.

Publisher book trailer:

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