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The Wedding Cake Girl Kindle Edition
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|Length: 234 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Alex is a soon to be senior in high school, an exceptional science student with dreams of becoming a marine biologist, if being far too involved in managing a very irresponsible and manipulative mother doesn't derail her dreams. At almost 18, she has never been off the island; her only escape is scuba diving, an activity her mother despises. Her mother, Sue, has an amazing talent and love for making and decorating wedding cakes, but no skill or willingness to manage her own business; leaving all of the "details" to Alex.
We see Alex "parent" her mother, waking her up, managing the business, baking the cakes, delivering them, and deferring to her mother in all things. What has been done, that is clear from the start of the novel, is that Alex feels she is the only person who is both willing to, and understands just how much care her mother requires.
While tangled relationships are not easily portrayed or defined, the author has done a fabulous job of creating in Sue, a character that is the example of "what not to do" to your child. Her fears of being alone have trumped her capabilities, leaning on Alex to such a degree that the child is literally convinced if she doesn't do all that she has taken on in the home, that they will be homeless, penniless and it will be her fault. To that end, I was completely unsympathetic and disliked Sue with a near visceral reaction. Her actions are selfish and her temper hair-trigger, placing her daughter in a position that lying, either directly or by omission, is the far simpler option when attempting to live her life.
You will cheer for Alex's triumphs, and there is a real sense of ache and loss when things don't go her way. And then we hit the one place of the story that I had issues with. While it's really a wonderful concept to believe that "deserving" something, and actually achieving it in the real world is often two very different things. Throughout the story there are little events where Alex "wins" in the battle between her wants and her grasping and controlling mother, but the situations converged in such a "fairy tale" happy ending way that I found it rather unrealistic. And to that point each character and scene was so realistically crafted and real that I was torn at the end. Yes, I believe that Alex's 18 years of struggle were deserving of reward and happiness - perhaps it was a feeling of too much positive and I was left with wanting to know what happened next; when the other shoe would drop.
I have been a YA fan since my daughter was young, and I felt it part of my job as a parent to be aware of what she was interested in reading, and have some `forewarning' about the subjects tackled in the books. I still read YA with an eye to the "parent" role, being hyper aware of language, sexual situations and characters, as well as writing style and skill. This is a book I would happily and wholeheartedly recommend to all readers, young or not so young. While there are several `important' characters, and I have seen fit only to concentrate on the two main players - each character is treated with a deference and detail that defines them as they relate to the whole story with great skill. The writing was both smooth and tight - I literally read the entire book in one sitting: more because I needed to know what happens next. There was only one typo that stopped my flow of reading for a moment, otherwise if there were errors - they went unnoticed. Anne Pfeffer has certainly found a niche for her style of storytelling, and there are 2 other titles in this genre available... I suggest you rush to the link and get them !
Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the way through the tone of the story changes, with sex becoming a larger issue than what I care to read about. During make-out sessions Alex's boyfriend lightly pressures her, and while she resists, she does consider giving in. Closer to the end, one of the main characters admits to being gay, which was unexpected and in my opinion seemed forced... it was as if the story was mostly written and then someone had a last minute idea to throw this in for controversy. These were both very disappointing happenings in a book that I originally thought would be a fun, mostly innocent "trip" to an island...
Honestly, in the beginning I really did enjoy the story; the diving scenes were exciting and fun, and the wedding cake business was interesting as well. However, when the tone changed and the above mentioned topics became front and center, my interest waned and I just wanted to be done so I could move on to other things. I wish the story had played out differently, because it had potential and was on a good fun streak until things suddenly got muddied by what I consider unnecessary themes.
For those wanting more info on possible content concerns:
Obviously there are the issues mentioned above, but of top of that, God's name is misused a dozen or so times, and minor profanities such as h*ll, *ss, etc, are each used a few times. A couple innuendos are present, and one time Alex visits a friend's house and discovers he has a girl in his room; nothing graphic is really seen, it's more just implied and then later referenced a couple times.
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