A sweet but ultimately unsatisfying memoir celebrating candy corn, Tootsie Rolls . . . and life, of course.
You’ll come to realize soon enough that candy isn’t a metaphor in the author’s life (and prose)—it’s her reason for being. As Liftin (co-author, Dear Exile, not reviewed) writes of a childhood slumber party, “It was the first time I had an inkling that others were easily distracted from sweets by more central events, where for me the distraction of sweets was the main event.” She begins her affaire du sucre at age seven with sugar eaten straight from the bag and moves on to sweetened breakfast cereals (Trix was a favorite), bubble gum in the shape of a hamburger, and packets of powdered cocoa swiped from the school cafeteria. Valentine “conversation hearts” accompany her on an eighth-grade ski trip, Nonpareils offer solace during high-school track meets, Junior Mints assuage the loneliness of a summer filing job, fudge is her only companion while an expatriate student at Oxford. The trouble with these vignettes is that once the candy is consumed, the sketch melts away as well, whether or not the narrative has reached its natural conclusion. Liftin writes well enough, but her single-minded obsession with candy obliterates all other aspects of the story. Toward the end, she scales back on her candy consumption (we’re not sure how or why), learns that her mother is a secret marshmallow-egg eater, and finds a mate. Her boyfriend hides an engagement ring in a package of Bottle Caps; their wedding reception features candy on the tables and a cupcake tree in lieu of a wedding cake. The author concludes that she’ll “never be a celery-nibbling angel” and admits that “the idea of life without candy is gray and incomplete.”
Like the treats themselves: ephemeral, a bit sickly, without a whole lot of staying power. (63 b&w illustrations)