Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: The Sweetest Thing (Mandelski)

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AUTHOR: Christina Mandelski
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Egmont
PUBLICATION DATE: May 10, 2011
ISBN: 9781606841297
PAGES: 352
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: realistic
GIVE IT TO: MS girls
SUMMARY: Sheridan Wells's father is about to hit the bigtime: his own cooking show, "The Single Dad Cooks," set to debut on a cable cooking network. But Sheridan is far from happy about it; her father's new fame means Sheridan gets lots of unwanted attention. It also looks like Sheridan and her father will have to move from their beloved Michigan town to New York City. But moving far away would mean Sheridan would have to leave her grandmother, her successful cake-decorating business, and her two best friends behind. Even worse, Sheridan knows if they move, her mother may never be able to find her again.

REVIEW: Ingredients for a middle school realistic fiction novel for girls:
  • Angst-filled girl who doesn't really know how beautiful/ talented/ smart/ desirable she really is. Seems to believe the whole world revolves around her problems, even though everyone else thinks she is uber-sweet and supermodel gorgeous. Cluelessness essential.
  • Guy best-friend who Angst-filled girl grew up with. Must be both incredibly hot AND secretly in love with her, even though girl does not realize either.
  • Hot, popular boy toy who Angst-filled girl falls for. Must be total mismatch for girl, sexually experienced, former boyfriend of popular mean girl, and of course, incredibly wealthy. A red corvette helps.
  • Popular mean girl. Must be wealthy, beautiful, and inexplicably cruel. Has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Exists only to counter Angst-filled girl.
  • Observant and loyal best friend. Serves only to shed light on Angst-filled girl's love life. Has neither a personality nor a life of her own.
  • Loving grandmother who knows how to boogie with the teenagers. Must have a special relationship with granddaughter. Must encounter a near-death experience in the middle of story, leaving Angst-filled girl questioning everything.
Check, check, check, check, check, and check. Did I hate this book? Not at all. It is kind of cute and may be just the thing for middle school girls dealing with an absent parent. It just feels like I've read this one a few times before. There is very little to set it apart from other novels like it, and literally nothing comes as a surprise.

Sheridan's character grates on my nerves. She is understandably annoyed with her father, who really does seem more wrapped up in his "brand" than in his daughter. But is it necessary to shout at him in front of the television crew and at a completely inappropriate time? I wanted to choke Sheridan at her complete lack of a CLUE. Really? You never, ever considered your hot best friend as a possible dating option? And it never occurred to you that maybe your mother is a flake who selfishly moved on with her life? Are you seriously considering staying with a boy because "he's just so cute"?

THE BOTTOM LINE: Neither terrible nor amazing, The Sweetest Thing may appeal to middle school girls who haven't yet read the plethora of realistic fiction published for girls with normal life problems. Predictable, but pleasant enough.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I don't have it, but I am not opposed to getting it. I have lots of others like it.

READALIKES: The Kissing Diary (Judith Caseley); Along for the Ride (Sarah Dessen), Hope Was Here (Joan Bauer), Girlfriend Material (Melissa Kantor)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 3/5
  • Creativity: 2/5
  • Characters: 2/5
  • Engrossing: 3/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: mild; a handful of "asses" and one "bitch"
  • Sexuality: mild; some kissing and a failed attempt at "second base"
  • Violence: none
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none

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