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by Maureen Fergus

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-55453-319-0
Publisher: Kids Can

Talented baker-entrepreneur Francie’s comfortable perch at the margins of ninth-grade social life—half-heartedly playing clarinet in Performance Band to ensure class time with best friend Holly, flirting surreptitiously with adorable dolt Tate Jarvis—is upended by the unnervingly self-possessed newcomer Darlene. Darlene is a frenemy par excellence, sowing jealousy and discontent in Francie and Holly’s solid friendship and manipulating Francie into one humiliating situation after another. This drama doesn’t ever reach a satisfying pitch, however, because there are too many competing narrative threads: The mean girls’ plot threatens to overtake Francie’s quest for fame as a celebrity baker, which is facilitated in part by a slow-burn romance with hilarious oddball Harold Horvath. Overplotting ensures that no single strand of the story reaches a completely satisfying conclusion, and readers will recognize the stock characters and familiar situations, but Fergus makes the main lessons—true passions are worth pursuing, real friends stick by each other and failure can yield inspiring opportunities—ring true enough. Most readers will wish for a Harold Horvath–focused sequel, or a cookbook detailing Francie’s scrumptious-sounding recipes. (Fiction. 12-15)