BOOK REPORT for Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Cover Story: Oui, Je Suppose
BFF Charm: Yay x 2 
Swoonworthy Scale:
 4
Talky Talk: Easy Breezy (Mostly)
Bonus Factors:
 Tasty Business, International Boarding School
Relationship Status: Casual Fling

Cover Story: Oui, Je Suppose

Don't get me wrong—this is super cute. I especially love how the cone is an upside down Eiffel Tower. But even though 'à la Mode' refers to ice cream—and, y'all, I loves me some ice cream—it's not actually that prominent in the story. (A pastry would be a much better fit and more Parisian.) It's also a touch too similar to another ice cream cover, but it's still better than the thematically more appropriate but busier alternative.

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The Deal:

When Rosie meets Henry on their flight from Chicago to Paris, they have no idea that they're heading to the same place: the most prestigious cooking school for teens in the entire world

Rosie can't believe she made the cut; after all, she's just a baker from Ohio completely who's out of her depth in the rest of the kitchen. Henry, on the other hand, practically grew up in the kitchen of his parents' restaurant, but it's the actual academics that's he's struggling with—and has to improve if he wants to stay in the program. 

It's a good thing these fast friends (and maybe more?) have each other, because the pursuit of their culinary dreams is certainly going to push them to their limits. 

BFF Charm: Yay x 2

Am I handing out BFF charms as easily as I wish the characters would hand out food to me? Selfishly, YES. But I do love how passionate both Rosie and Henry are about food and what they want to do with their lives. (Plus, Henry's a restaurant kid like I was.) If that means an endless supply of imaginary feasts for me, then SO BE IT. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

It's definitely like at first sight for Rosie and Henry. They're adorable together, but in a way that I appreciate as a spectator rather than vicariously feeling the feels. Although these cute knuckleheads need to learn how to C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E. And then there's also the teen heartthrob celebrity chef* classmate of theirs who takes an interest in Rosie... 

*A concept that, in a book full of escapist tropes, perhaps requires the biggest stretch of the reader's imagination. 

Talky Talk: Easy Breezy (Mostly)

Much like the delicious dishes it describes, this book is easily devourable. It might get a little name-drop happy with IRL celebrity chefs (quite possibly all men, come to think of it, HMMM), but the attention to detail when it comes to food is mouth-wateringly on point. 

Less so is a subplot that I was hoping wouldn't turn out the way it did. (Slight spoilers ahead.) Although technically proficient, Henry's dishes are criticized for lacking a sense of who he is. But then the big breakthrough is him incorporating his Korean heritage into his cooking. Having his food judged to be inauthentic until he makes it more Korean rankles me a bit—like, 'what it needed to be is Korean like you!' (To be fair, the dishes are also inspired by his hometown of Chicago.) Obviously, there is nothing wrong with cooking your own culture's food, but it reminds me of the "Where are you really from?" question, for which the only satisfactory answer is the one that falls in line with the expectation of the person asking. Which are far deeper implications than I wanted from a frothy read such as this. 

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

Mais bien sûr! The food descriptions are excruciating, in that you're probably not eating anything as delicious as what you're reading about. Why doesn't this novel have an accompanying cookbook?! (Or, better yet, a renowned chef to make it all for you instead.)

Bonus Factor: International Boarding School

CULINARY BOARDING SCHOOL IN PARIS. Any single part of that would heavenly on its own, but L'École Denis Laurent is all that a bag of croissants. The twenty students enrolled in the program come from all over the globe, albeit probably overly represented by Americans and fluent English speakers. 

Relationship Status: Casual Fling

Sometimes, you're just in the mood for something light and fun. And if you can get a few good meals out of it and it takes you to Paris? EVEN BETTER. 

Love à la Mode is available now.