The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler (cover)Well, I ended up abandoning Thrity Umrigar’s memoir, First Darling of the Morning. I got to about 50 pages, which is where, if a book isn’t grabbing me, I’m allowed to put it down. Not only was I not grabbed, I was also vaguely annoyed. But hey, the coworker who lent it to me loved it, so to each her own!

Instead, I picked up Heather Hepler’s forthcoming young adult novel, The Cupcake Queen, lent to me by a different coworker. It was a quick read — I finished it in two days — but a good one too.

The novel is narrated by Penny Lane (her father was a Beatles fan), a fourteen-year-old who has just moved from New York City to the tiny town of Hog’s Head with her mother while her father, as part of a trial separation, remains in NYC. As Penny negotiates her new school and works in her mother’s new cupcake bakery, she meets a cast of characters that are both quirky and familiar: the school bully, the outcast with crazy fashion sense, the cute boy, the spunky grandmother. Along the way, she works through her own problems and those of her friends and ultimately reaches the choice: does she stay in Hog’s Hollow with her mom, or does she return to New York and the life she loved with her dad?

The Cupcake Queen reminded me of Coleen Paratore’s Willa Havisham books but for a slightly older age group, with a little of Ann Brashaers’ Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series mixed in. Overall, a good read with lots of warm moments, little triumphs, and positive lessons!

I just started Kristin Cashore’s Graceling last night. The sequel, Fire is due in September. So far, it’s great!

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