The last place I thought I'd be when this day began is where I am, which is in a car. Mama's car to be exact, and she's driving headstrong through downtown Memphis with an Elvis impersonator on our tail. I know the Elvis; his name is Huck.
Foster and her mom are on the run from an abusive boyfriend when the novel opens. They end up in Culpepper, West Virginia. At first Foster isn't sure of this new town, this new place. Small is small and the opportunities seem a bit limited. Foster has big dreams of being a baker, and in Memphis she'd had the opportunity to 'help' at a local bakery. And well, there are only three restaurants in town--an Arby's, a Pizza Hut, and a local place called Angry Wayne's. Her mom, a back-up singer, may manage to find a job at the local hardware store. But Culpepper doesn't seem to be a town with much promise. Then again, Foster doesn't appear to be a kid with much promise. Not until you know her, not until you've tasted one of her delicious cupcakes. Not until you find out about her incredible memory--she cooks everything by memory. And most of her recipes come from the Food Network.
Foster is dreaming of fame, dreaming of her own cooking show, while her neighbor Miss Charleena is recovering from fame. She's had it all. A big movie career in Hollywood, a marriage to a beautiful guy, but it left a sour taste in her mouth. Now she's hiding away in a small town at times dreaming of a big comeback and at other times too depressed to even want to leave her bedroom. Miss Charleena comes to care for Foster, discovers her secret, and is determined to help her young friend. Foster may just give Miss Charleena some unexpected help as well.
I liked this one. It was well written. The characters were wonderfully developed. The small town is given a chance to shine. It's a great little novel with a couple of great messages. It deals with economic struggles, abusive homes, and illiteracy, yet it does it in a natural way, for the most part. I'm not sure I completely believe the big showdown where cupcakes save the day. But there were so many things I liked about it, that it is easy for me to recommend.
"Waiting," he told me, "is a powerful thing. Most folks today just rush off to get something done. You learn to wait, my young friend. You learn to wait and listen and not be afraid of the quiet. Too much noise in this old world. On a battlefield when you're getting shot at, you don't have time to think things through. You've just got to do as you've been trained and follow your best instincts. It's here in the quiet waiting for a fish that you can fill up for when the tough times come."
I knew I'd heard something important. I wondered if he'd taken me fishing to tell me that. (181)
© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews