A flashy heroine who falls from grace, a child who helps her regain perspective, an estranged sister to reconcile with, and a couple of handsome and successful male foils—this novel has all the ingredients of a tasty beach read.
Sunshine Mackenzie is a YouTube sensation who's about to become the next Food Network star—until a hater hacks into her Twitter account and outs her as a fraud. Not only does this celebrity chef not know how to cook, but she doesn’t even have an authentic biography—her whole Southern farmer's daughter persona was created by a TV producer looking for just the right face to front a food show. When she loses everything, she slinks back to her real childhood home, which happens to be in Montauk and where she has an angry sister she hasn’t seen in years. But Sunshine isn’t one to let life knock her down without getting up again, so Dave (Eight Hundred Grapes, 2015, etc.) provides a few paths to redemption: Sunshine bonds with her young niece, makes an actual friend, and tries to win her way back into the food world by doing her own work, this time in the kitchen of a demanding, Thomas Keller–like chef. Dave tries to juxtapose authenticity, privacy, and reality with extremes of exposure and fakery in both the virtual world and the real one, but the book never really takes off with these themes. Still, Sunshine doesn’t go entirely unredeemed, and the story is fun to read in the same way cooking shows are fun to watch.
Nothing terribly fresh here, but it goes down easily.