The Wedding Cake Girl – a Review

The Wedding Cake Girl
by Anne Pfeffer

The Wedding Cake Girl
Author: Anne Pfeffer
202 pages
Amazon Digital Services
Genre: YA Contemporary

Buy it at Amazon
Stars : 5

Book Description:
Seventeen-year-old Alexandra spends so much time helping others realize their dreams that she never has time for her own. An expert ocean diver and reluctant maker of wedding cakes, she longs to leave roses and frosting behind to study oceanography. Alex’s mother won’t have it—needy and dependent, Mom can’t run the family wedding cake business on her own.
No matter what Alex does, things only get worse for her. When she saves a man’s life while scuba diving and becomes the local hero, Mom’s angry with Alex for going diving at all. Mom discourages Alex’s new friendship with Jeremy, a fun and insanely wealthy boy who happens to have a secret. Then, Alex’s best friend, Zack, a hunky island guy, starts to take an interest in her as well. The problem is, he’s dating another girl.
As Alex struggles to learn where she stands between her two difficult and confusing Prince Charmings, it occurs to her that maybe what she really needs is a Prince Charming for Mom. If she doesn’t do something fast, they’ll bury her in her “Sue’s Wedding Cakery” apron with a spatula in her hand.
The Wedding Cake Girl features a colorful island setting, dangerous underwater diving adventures, a family of billionaires, and lots and lots of buttercream. The book is Alex’s journey toward not only finding love, but learning how to step forward and take control of her own life, a rite of passage that faces all young readers.

The Review:

I received a copy of this book from the author, for purpose of honest review.  I was not compensated for this review, and conclusions are honestly given and entirely my responsibility. This book review was requested by Freebooksy reviews.

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 !