G-rated, young-adult, romantic comedy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Pages: 368 pages
Source: Loan from a friend
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Across the course of an entire year, 17-year-old Sophie Evans encounters 17-year-old Andrew Hart at nine different catered events, including a wedding, a funeral, an outdoor barbecue, and a New Year’s Eve party. Hard-working Sophie is employed by a local florist. Andrew is the son of a famous, former TV chef whose current focus involves helping a select few struggling chefs, in the USA and abroad, increase the success of their restaurants or catering businesses by mentoring them for a full year, in exchange for a percentage of their increased profits. In Sophie’s small, Alabama town, the chosen chef for the coming year is the father of her best friend, Micah, whose catering business specializes in classic, Southern, comfort-food cuisine.
Sophie and Andrew have a rocky First Meet. His father is condescending, domineering, and rude, and she is convinced that sophisticated, world-traveler Andrew is an entitled snob. She wants nothing to do with him, and she worries that Micah’s family will be emotionally and financially harmed by the chef from hell. However, Micah, ever the compassionate peacemaker, insists that Sophie make nice with both of the Harts, given that the future of her father’s business is riding on the outcome of this project.
I personally very much enjoy a romantic comedy in which the romantic protagonists begin as enemies who believe they have nothing in common, but over time discover they are very much alike under their surface differences. In this situation, Sophie and Andrew are the same age and are both artistically inclined. He is an excellent web designer and takes wonderful photos. She wants to be a fashion designer. Sophie is so focused on her plan of winning a scholarship to design school in New York City and escaping the claustrophobic lifestyle of her small Southern town, she has become a workaholic loner who has never dated and whose only friend is Micah. Andrew has traveled so much with his father, he has been educated by correspondence course, and he has no friends at all.
I absolutely loved Micah. She’s an amazingly kind, generous and optimistic extrovert who brings out the best in everyone around her. She is the catalyst for Sophie and Andrew gradually becoming friends, because Micah kindly befriends lonely Andrew, and Sophie can’t resist Micah’s determination that Sophie give him a chance.
Micah and Sophie have been best friends since they were five years old in kindergarten, and it is easy to believe they will stay close all their lives. Though Micah and her family are African-American, the author barely touches on the racism and misogyny so rampant in small-town Alabama, no doubt choosing to gloss over it because such a painfully dark issue would violate the light, comedic tone of this novel.
This story is somewhat reminiscent of the movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral, but without that movie’s romantic triangle (thank goodness). There is some funny repartee between Sophie and Andrew, but the story is also quite poignant at times, to the point that one might call this book a “dramedy.” Both Sophie and Andrew are suffering from abandonment issues due to the divorce of their respective parents, and there is a long, well-motivated arc across the whole novel, as they move from distrust to trust in order to be willing to take a chance on their strong romantic feelings for each other.
This is a G-rated story with only a few kisses exchanged. But even so, the author quite successfully portrays strong sexual chemistry and powerful emotional connection between these two very attractive and sympathetic young people.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5
Coming of Age Plot: 5