The Baking Life of Amelie Day
Vanessa Curtis, Author
Capstone Young Readers, Sept. 1, 2015
Suitable for Ages: 9-13
Themes: Cystic Fibrosis, Baking Competitions, Family relationships, Friendship, Trust, Responsibility, Loss
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Amelie Day is made of sugar and spice and lives to bake sweet confections for her family and friends. Her life would be empty without baking. Flour power dominates her mind. She is excited when she is invited to compete in the Best Teen Baker of the Year contest, even though she knows that participating is a risk to her worsening cystic fibrosis. There are days when she can barely breathe and many trips to the hospital. When her doctors and parents tell her she is too ill to participate, she defies them and takes a train on her own from Pennsylvania to New York City. She hopes to wow the judges with her German gingerbread with vanilla custard, her macaroons, and chocolate lava cakes. The trip presents many unexpected challenges and hurts family and friends.
Why I like this book:
I am thrilled to share Vanessa Curtis’ compelling story about a strong protagonist with cystic fibrosis (CF). This work of realistic fiction fits the bill. There is a nice balance between a teen wanting to pursue her dreams and a teen living with a serious illness. Teens with CF will find a hero in Amelie.
The narrative is written in first person and gives the reader deep insight into Amelie and how she finds a way to cope with CF. Her love of baking is the perfect antidote because she isn’t able to participate in many physical activities like her classmates. Amelie is a feisty, creative and determined character. She finds a way to balance her daily treatments, exercises and medications, with school, a job, a boyfriend and her baking dreams. She works part-time at a grocery store to earn her pay in baking supplies. Her parents are supportive but protective. Her childhood friend and boyfriend, Harry, is very accepting of Amelie’s CF.
The plot is interesting, adventurous and entertaining. Themes cover issues of responsibility, trust and independence. It is easy to lose yourself in Amelie’s baking world. I found myself drooling over her recipes. There is plenty of tension to keep readers turning pages. Teens who love to bake, will enjoy the inclusion of recipes of Amelie’s baked goods at the end of many chapters. Here’s to Amelie’s flour power!
Vanessa Curtis is the award-winning author of several young adult novels including Zelah Green (Egmont 2009), which won the Manchester Children’s Book Prize, and The Haunting of Tabitha Gray (Egmont, 2012), a contemporary ghost story with a shocking twist.
Check other Middle Grade review links on Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.