I didn’t love or hate The Sweetest Thing. It’s predictable and follows many common tropes in rom-com style books for middle schoolers. It just feels like I’ve read books just like this one many times before.
AUTHOR: Christina Mandelski
PUBLICATION DATE: May 10, 2011
GIVE IT TO: MS
SUMMARY OF THE SWEETEST THING
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 OF THE SWEETEST THING
Ingredients for a middle school or YA romance…
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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. Bonus points if they drive a flashy car, such as a red corvette.
4. Popular mean girl. Must be wealthy, beautiful, and inexplicably cruel. Has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Exists only to counter Angst-filled girl.
5. 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.
6. Loving grandmother who knows how to boogie with the young’uns. Must have a “special relationship” with granddaughter. Must encounter a near-death experience in the middle of story, leaving Angst-filled girl questioning everything.
For The Sweetest Thing, we can check, check, check, check, check, and check all these boxes.
Did I hate this book? Not at all. It is kind of cute and may be just the thing for middle schoolers 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, so I’ll give her a pass when she shouts at him in front of the television crew and at a completely inappropriate time.
Most of the time though, 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? And 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 readers who haven’t yet read the plethora of realistic fiction published for teens 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)
- 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
- 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