Published: October 2011
ecopy: received for review
There’s one thing Maddie finds more tempting than red velvet cake: her coworker, Drew. All it takes is one of his sly winks or a playful hip-check by the cooler, and she’s incinerating the cookies. Her boyfriend would not approve.
When a reality TV crew descends upon the bakery, her simple summer job gets even more complicated. Maddie could become the Bakery Network’s next breakout star, if she can handle the heat of being cast as a show villain. Drew has an alternate idea: run away from everything, with him and his sexy tousled hair. She decides to take the leap, but when she finds out Drew’s been hiding a shocking secret, Maddie looks down at her packed suitcase and takes a moment to think. Should she fly off to Australia with a guy she hardly knows, or should she pick up her suitcase and hit him with it?
Chock full of imperfect people behaving badly, Practice Cake is for readers who enjoy a good laugh.
Last year I received a request from Dalya Moon to review her novel Charlie Woodcock is a Minor Niner (review HERE) - it was a wonderful book that I enjoyed very much. So when she contacted me again to try Practice Cake I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately life has a way of stepping in and it has taken several months for me to finally get time so read it, and I am SO glad I did.
Maddie, short for Madeline (like the little cakes) is 18 and has just graduated from high school. She's smart, sassy, funny and determined to buy a VW Bug. I loved her character so much. Ms Moon has a way of writing that captures the essence of her characters. At 18 we really don't know what we want, but if we're lucky we learn from our mistakes, and that is exactly what Maddie does. She's pretty without being gorgeous, she has family problems, but they're not overwhelming. She has a job that isn't glamorous but satisfies her. In fact, she's one of the most real characters I've read in a while. Maddie's interaction with guys is hilarious, and Drew, Hudson and Brian are all prime examples of the male population in its various forms. Maddie's sister Melanie is loving, but has a seriously flawed love life, her boyfriend is an idiot - albeit a handsome one, and her best friend Jaslene gets jealous of her frequently, but they forgive each other, as friends do.
A few of my favourite quotes:
p 15 '"It's like a pair of sandals mated with a snake," I said, eliciting a few chuckles from out captive elevator audience. "And these are their shameful offspring."' (Maddie and Jaslene talking about a pair of open-toed boots)
p16 "That's the thing about jealousy. It's an awful, shameful human emotion, but when it's aimed at you, it's almost a sign you're on the right track. When I started wearing more skirts and shorts instead of jeans, the hateful looks increased, so I shortened my hems even more. Now that I was a high school graduate, how was I supposed to know when I looked hot?'
p17 '"Scouting," I said. I tried to stay cool, but nearly stumbled down the contrete steps, ruining my nice dress with a bloody compound fracture.'
p 32 '"Cute, but I'm in love with him." I pointed to the shelf behind the counter, at the taxidermied squirrel with little black cowboy boots and a tiny pistol. I wondered if that was the fate awaiting the squirrels in the bakery's ceiling crawlspace. The exterminator had said there were four or more. Perhaps they'd be made into little Village People squirrels.
Through all the humour, and there is lots of it, there are some wonderful life lessons to be learned, but the story is never preachy. It pokes fun at life in so many different ways, many of them uniquely Canadian, which I just loved. There's a little bit of underage drinking and some mature situations with some bad language, but none of it is over the top or out of character. Practice Cake is sad, funny, romantic, funny, real and just plain wonderful to read. I loved every witty minute of it and only wish it had been twice as long, so that I could have seen more of these wonderful characters.
I'm always happpy when I find a Canadian author whose work I really enjoy. Thank you Ms Moon for the great read.
Addendum: Dalya's books are available for Kindle on Amazon.com for only $2.99 - at that price you could try them all!