Atheneum Books for Young Readers
May 17, 2016
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Get well soon isn’t going to cut it in this quirky and poignant debut novel about a girl, her depression, an aggressive amount of baked goods, and the struggle to simply stay afloat in an unpredictable, bittersweet life.
There are only three things that can get seventeen-year-old Molly Byrne out of bed these days: her job at FishTopia, the promise of endless episodes of Golden Girls, and some delicious lo mien. You see, for the past two years, Molly’s been struggling with something more than your usual teenage angst. Her shrink, Dr. Brooks isn’t helping much, and neither is her mom who is convinced that baking the perfect cake will cure Molly of her depression—as if cake can magically make her rejoin the swim team, get along with her promiscuous sister, or care about the SATs.
Um, no. Never going to happen.
But Molly plays along, stomaching her mother’s failed culinary experiments, because, whatever—as long as it makes someone happy, right? Besides, as far as Molly’s concerned, hanging out with Alex at the rundown exotic fish store makes life tolerable enough. Even if he does ask her out every…single…day. But—sarcastic drum roll, please—nothing can stay the same forever. When Molly finds out FishTopia is turning into a bleak country diner, her whole life seems to fall apart at once. Soon she has to figure out what—if anything—is worth fighting for.
100 Days of Cake is very much a serious and weighty but also humorous tale. Author Shari Goldhagen gives readers a realistic, honest look at not only Molly's depression - the ups, the downs, the good days, the bad - but also how it's impacting her family.
Molly likes going to work at FishTopia, likes spending her days with Alex, eating lo mein and watching Golden Girls with him (they almost never have customers). She may not know how he actually feels about her or what their relationships is, but it works. More than what hse has with her sister Veronica or her mother (the not-quite-baker) who's making a new cake every day.
I liked that we saw Molly's different emotions and different 'moods' She is depressed and we do see points where that is painfully obvious - to both us and her - but also moments where she seems truly happy. Working at FishTopia, her mother's 100 days of cakes, her super eco-conscious best friend, Elle, and Elle's 'rabid possum' of a younger brother could all be too much, but it's not.
Molly's phrasing helps keep the story lighter and humorous. It was unique, fun and different. Though, at times it felt . . . maybe forced or something trying to be young rather than something that was. Mostly, I really liked it.
There's all of that going on around Molly, there's therapy with Dr B, days at the fist store, Elle and her brother, Molly's damaged relationship with V, her dropping the activities she seemed to love but it all works. In that it doesn't quite work as Molly is depressed.
There is no unnecessary drama here. Sure Elle yells at people about recycling, Molly's mother is trying to fix things with making a new cake every day though she can't bake, her sister is gorgeous and popular and perfect, who knows what she is to Alex - or what she wants to be. Somehow, though, even later when things are wrong or misinterpreted or a combination, it's not drama. It's complciated and real and emotional and confusing.
I liked Molly's character and her journey but also really liked Veronica and their mother. They're more in the background but as tings are more fully understood, their behaviors make perfect sense.
100 Days of Cake is a great read that is sad and anxious but hopeful and sweet, it is perfectly honest and real.
received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley