From Hemmings (Juniors, 2015, etc.), a potato-chip–thin comedy about a single mother in San Francisco hoping to win a cookbook competition.
Thirtyish recipe blogger Mele is a struggling (with help from rich parents in Hawaii) but adoring single mom to 2-year-old Ellie. When she was pregnant, Mele's boyfriend, Bobby, dumped her for a woman he calls “the love of his life,” and he's finally marrying her in three weeks. Bobby wants Ellie to be the flower girl; Mele agrees but then obsesses about attending the wedding herself. Meanwhile, she enters a cookbook competition sponsored by the San Francisco Mother’s Club. If such an organization actually exists, no one would want to join it after reading Mele’s description of her horrible experiences with snobby members or the obnoxious online postings by monster-moms which are sprinkled throughout. Hemmings structures the novel as Mele’s answers to a questionnaire that competition entrants must fill out. Mele turns for inspiration to her own makeshift parent group that gathers at the unfashionable Panhandle playground, creating recipes inspired by stories from each member. Financially strapped mother-of-three Georgia worries about her teenage son, Chris, until they connect over In-N-Out burgers. Punkish, highly educated graphic artist Annie lets the goody-goody babysitter she shares with a monster-mom intimidate her but gets revenge with a special brownie. (Annie’s kitchen skills, equal to Mele’s, create a bit of sloppy plot redundancy.) Anxious realtor Barrett is aghast when her newly popular middle school son throws a “hood party” based on ugly racial and sexual attitudes. And then there is rich, handsome, sensitive Henry, whose wife is having an affair and whose friendship with Mele may be edging toward something more.
From the plucky heroine whose life is not very hard to the easy potshots at stereotypical monster-moms, this novel is so contrived it’s hard to believe it comes from the same author as the emotionally wrenchingThe Descendents (2007).