Boy meets girl meets Paris meets Chopped.
Bound for a prestigious culinary program in Paris, high school junior Henry Yi exchanges glances with aisle mate and—surprise!—fellow aspiring pastry chef Rosie Radeke in a requisite meet-cute. Their romance, replete with distracting detours, minor miscommunications, and Parisian pastries galore, unfurls in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Henry and Rosie. This story has the feeling of the many reality shows that it references, with a multinational, multiracial cast of students frantically cooking for a chance to return for spring semester and all of the friendships, relationships, and drama that a boarding school entails. Characterizations are a bit glib at times: When the classmates create a meal of their favorite foods, a black American brings mac and cheese, a South Asian girl brings samosas, and a Swedish character brings meatballs with gravy and lingonberry jam. Rosie, a white girl from Ohio, has a backstory that feels a bit rushed. Henry, though, a third-generation Korean-American with fully-fleshed, complicated parents, is at once recognizable and original. Ultimately, despite an entirely inevitable ending that borders on saccharine, the story is infused with such joy and love—and delectable dishes—that readers will simply gobble it up whole.
Like a souffle: bright, frothy, and entirely delicious. (Fiction. 12-18)