A la Carte by Tanita S. Davis
Genre: young adult fiction
From my TBR list?: Yes
Available on audio?: No
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Summary: A high-school senior and aspiring chef using cooking to help face the challenges in her life, like trying to figure out if her best friend is really a friend at all.
Most people aren't lucky enough to have the same best friend throughout their lives, so I think that this is a story that most teens can relate to. The main character Lainey has a friend who has basically been her only friend since elementary school. Once they hit high school, she is forced to reexamine their relationship, especially when it starts to jeopardize her relationship with her mother.
A big component of the book is the cooking. Lainey has always dreamed of being a famous chef. Luckily, her mother owns a restaurant so Lainey can experiment to her heart's content. There is even a few references to not using food as comfort that are thankfully written with a light touch. This is another "novel plus" with recipes at the end of every chapter. They are all vegetarian, so this might be a good book to hand to a vegetarian teen who has a little experience in the kitchen.
"A la Carte" reads like a more mature version of the Middle School Survival books that my 12-year-olds love. In this book, however, the lesson isn't as obvious and the ending isn't as pat. Davis does a good job of portraying the push and pull that can occur between a mother and a teenage daughter even when the daughter is a "good girl". The story is also a good illustration of what it can feel like when you outgrow a friendship.
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