Author: Kathryn Williams
Publisher: Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books (imprint of Macmillan)
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Source: ALA 2012
Buy It: Amazon
Add It: Goodreads
Can a spot on a teen reality show really lead to a scholarship at an elite cooking school AND a summer romance?
Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America's finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.
Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering--fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance.
Have you ever been on a strict diet and then all of a sudden decide that you need to chill out and eat a little comfort food, or else you just might go crazy? Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff is my comfort food. This book is exactly what I needed to make me smile. It was an adorable, quick read with such a unique sounding storyline that I knew I would love it. And honestly, it had me at the title. I gobbled this book up like I did the delectable pizza I had in Siena, Italy this past May. As always, my main points are bolded. :)
1. I'm kind of a reality TV junkie. I love all of it. The drama, the excitement, the fact that I'm watching real people rather than polished actors. When I read about this book, I knew we'd make a great pair. It embodies all that is reality TV, but also gives you a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes happenings that we all know hold more truth than the show itself. The idea behind the book is so fresh and unique to me. Reality TV meets young adult novel. I'm all for it!
2. The characters are all so likeable. We've got Sophie, the main girl, who is this sweet thing with broad hips and a love of food and her foodie family. I love her family. They're right out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and I loved that. Her best friend, Alex, being the true friend that he is, has her back and gets her on the show with a little coaxing and many pep talks. The contestants on the show (two of which become Sophie's best friends) all fill a very specific role for a very specific character. You know how reality TV is. You've got the sweetheart, the villain, the brooding anti-social, etc. I really enjoyed them all, especially when they stirred up drama. The judges were all the sterotypical, dramatic judges you see on TV, and we even had Tommy who is the spitting image of The Chairman on Iron Chef. And then... there's the hot French guy who, off camera, has Sophie swooning and daydreaming. The cast of characters was a winner in my book!
3. The FOOD. Oh my! I loved reading all the yummy-sounding descriptions of the dishes that the contestants made. Each week they were on the show focused on different genres, if you will, of food. There was a Latin week, an Asian one, a French one, a Mediterranean one, and a Pastry one. This book made me so hungry! Of course, the author included some of the recipes for these meals and desserts, so if you feel the need to satisfy any resulting cravings, you're encouraged to do so.
4. I was worried about whether or not I would believe the excitement of the kitchen during competition time, but I did! I got really excited and read faster. It was like reading an episode of Iron Chef. I really enjoyed it.
5. The romance was minimal, but there. I really enjoyed the small glimmers of romance, but appreciated that they were not the focus of the story.
6. I also appreciated that the book was not predictable. It was not perfectly wrapped up into the obvious conclusion. It made things more realistic for me.
Overall, Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous was stinkin' cute. It was quick, light, happy, sweet, and savory. I loved the idea, and the execution was done really well. The writing was witty, and the characters were all loveable. I'd recommend this to anyone who needs a little comfort food in their life.