A gay Toronto foodie translates his love of pastry into love of self amid some mean-boy body shaming.
Seventeen-year-old Theo’s amour for baking doesn’t extend to cardio, so he’s less six-pack abs and more keg. Since Theo lacks the confidence to recognize he’s got noteworthy allure as a baker (and potential boyfriend material), his outrageous bestie, Di, enters him into a cooking (note: not baking) contest. Sweets, not savories, are his forte, but he embraces the opportunity since it’s sponsored by one of the hottest and hottest celebrity faces in the restaurant world, Kyle Carl Clark. Swoon. Theo is the instant dark horse, his recipes as conversely different from his competitors’ as his full-bodied breadth is to their tight pecs and trim waistlines. As the contest evolves, he confronts a barrage of insults and advances (wanted and unwanted), meandering through them to understand himself, his talent, and his take on negative forces within his own community. Short paragraphs and straightforward dialogue make this ideal for reluctant readers. A gay protagonist (and many secondary and tertiary characters) and a drag queen will resonate with an LGBTQ+ audience. Theo is presumably white, as are most characters; a reference to microbraids may imply Di is black, and one contest judge has an Asian Indian surname.
The tough truth of marginalized communities attacking their own is difficult to face but accurate in its exposure of toxic behavior; Theo’s shaky navigation is inspiring. (Fiction. 13-17)