"You can't just casually tell someone you carry caramel sauce around and walk away like that's a normal thing."
― Emma Lord, Tweet Cute
What's up readers, writers, and anyone else looking for wonderful books to read (or doing a report if that's your jam)! Today's post was supposed to happen in April, but it's happening now instead (along with this month's review of Cinderella is Dead) because of health reasons.
Before I jump into this review, I think that it's imperative that I tell you that I purchased this book on a whim at Barnes and Noble. When I picked it up, I wasn't sure if I'd like the book or not, I just thought it was cool that it was a food-themed romance novel. But man, oh man, was I in for a treat! And I"m going to tell you why. So, with that said, grab the nearest dessert and let's bite into what I really want to talk about today: the grilled cheese sandwiches, war, and romance of Tweet Cute by Emma Lord.
What's the novel about?
Tweet Cute is about an overachieving girl named Pepper who loves to make dessert and happens to run the Twitter account for Big League Burger (her parent's chain restaurant) and a guy named Jack who develops apps and works at Girl Cheesing (his family's deli).
When Big League Burger steals his grandma's grilled cheese recipe, Pepper and Jack (or PepperJack as I like to call them) have an all-out hilarious Twitter war. But in real life, these two teenagers are falling for each other on Weazel (an app that Jack built).
What will happen in this culinary battle? There's only one way to find out: you'll have to read it!
What themes are present in the book?
Okay, so, this novel has a ton of things in the theme department. From conversations about general life stuff to bigger questions like your place in the universe, this book talks about it all. But, if I had to boil the theme down to three subjects, I'd say it's about 1) how far you're willing to go for family, 2) how food informs who you are, and 3) discovering what you want out of life. If these seem like pretty large topics, they are. Don't worry though, I'll walk you through each of them.
How Far Are You Willing to Go For Family?
The first theme that Lord discusses in Tweet Cute is how far are people willing to go for their family. When Lord first sets up the relationship between Pepper and her mother, it's obvious that Pepper is irritated by her mom's shenanigans―especially when it comes to being forced to Tweet from the Big League Burger (BLB) Twitter account. And when Jack finds out that Pepper is the one tweeting at Girl Cheesing, you can almost hear the irritation and sadness in her voice when she says "It's not―my mom just makes me do it. It's not anything personal."
Throughout the book, Pepper's mom pressures her into focusing on the BLB account instead of her school work and extracurricular activities to the point where Pepper becomes burned out. Even when she and Jack decide to call a truce on their Twitter war, her mother posts something to keep it going, causing friction in PepperJack's relationship.
And with Jack, you have a character who's willing to go through the extra trouble of defending his grandmother's honor and his parent's restaurant no matter the cost―even when his parents threaten to ground him for eternity.
The juxtaposition between Pepper's relationship with her mother and Jack's relationship with his parents is refreshing, to say the least. It shows just how opposite, yet similar, their lives are.
How Does Food Inform Who You Are?
From the names of the main characters to their parent's professions to their daily activities, food is entrenched in every part of this book. Food informs every facet of PepperJack's beings.
For Pepper, she's named after a spice, she's set to inherit BLB from her parents, she runs a baking blog with her sister, and uses food to make up with everyone. The type of food that she makes, and the memories of the food surrounding her, are all a product of her upbringing.
Jack is set to inherit Grill Cheesing, he spends most of his free time in the kitchen or helping with the deli, and is always consuming food, and he spends a lot of time learning recipes from his parents and grandmother (I'm not sure if that's explicitly stated in the book, but it seems like something his character would do).
Food informs who we are because it tells us where we came from, where we're going, and who we're becoming. It's part of our heritage and our culture, and it's a defining characteristic (especially when it comes to who's allowed to bring the potato salad to the cookout).
What Do You Want Out Of Life?
The second theme in this story is about what you want out of life. Pepper and Jack both struggle with this question throughout the novel. Pepper assumes that "there were certain directions [her] life was going to take. The safe kind. The kind everyone else was taking, and [she] plowed through with a vengeance." She realizes that she doesn't know what she wants out of life, but eventually realizes that she's not obligated to have it all figured out right away.
"...my parents still have way more faith in Ethan than in me. The only reason I'm the one running the account is because we all know I'm the kid who's going to get left with the deli while Ethan takes over the world."
Jack, on the other hand, is afraid that his parents don't find him capable of doing anything other than running the restaurant and struggles with his love for Girl Cheesing and his love for app development. And the complex that he has about his twin brother Ethan being the "golden child" doesn't help with that. At one point in the novel he laments, "...my parents still have way more faith in Ethan than in me. The only reason I'm the one running the account is because we all know I'm the kid who's going to get left with the deli while Ethan takes over the world." Later, his parents explain that he could pursue whatever dreams he wants after high school, but that they pushed him hard in the diner because he seemed to genuinely enjoy running the place.
Lord does a great job showing both of their struggles when it comes to their future and where they want to go in life. Based on the end of the novel, we can assume that the characters will figure it out while listening to early 2000s Miley Cyrus (I don't know why, it just seems like the characters would be fans of her and Taylor Swift).
What did you like?
There was soooo much to like about this story. First, I love books with adorkable characters, and PepperJack totally fits that bill. But, I'd also say that the relationships between the characters will well developed. The parent-child dynamics were so lifelike that I wouldn't be surprised if Lord plucked them from real family members and friends.
I thought it was cool how she incorporated modern-day communication platforms like Instagram and Twitter. More and more YA novels are doing this, but I think that this is one of the first that I've read and it gives me hope that more authors will follow in her footsteps.
I also liked the names of the desserts because, come one, who doesn't like to read about food? Seriously though, I thought the idea behind the foods and their names were clever and used to move the plot along in the best way possible.
Overall, I guess that I just liked that it was well-written and perfectly fit it's theme of You've Got Mail, but make it YA.
What, if anything, did you dislike or wish the author would've done differently?
The only thing that I disliked about the novel was how predictable it was in some places. I don't want to give away spoilers, so let's just say that the twists and turns in the plot weren't actually twists and turns. The reader already knows the end results of the situations that the characters are in. Which, okay, it is a romantic comedy so on some level that's expected. But, for me, it seemed like every moment that could have been an "AHA" moment, or every trope that could have been turned on its head didn't exist in this book.
I also wish that we could have seen more of the supporting characters, like Paige (Pepper's older sister who helps her with the baking blog), Pepper's dad (who I think made an appearance, like, once in the entire book, but he is mentioned), and Grandma Belly (Jack's grandmother; after all, if it's a book about her recipe being stolen, I kind of want to see more of that). A lot of the supporting characters were great, but I don't think they were utilized to their full extent.
Speaking of things being utilized, the book takes place in New York, but I don't think that Lord explored the senses as much as she could have. As a writer myself, I can tell you that senses can make a huge difference in books, especially ones with food. The characters live in New York, so it would have been nice to see, smell, touch, and hear New York (especially since I've never been). And, while she describes how the desserts look and taste, I wanted to know how they felt. Does the Monster Cake crumble in your hands because it's soft, or is it sticky like marshmallows leaving you to have to wash your hands immediately after? Does it smell like a brownie or cake, because it's both? And so on and so on.
And, while we're on the topic of desserts, the last thing that I wish the author had included in the book are the recipes for the creations because they SOUND SO GOOD! Luckily, the author did recognize that this was something that her readers would want, so she included some of the recipes on her website. I'm definitely going to try making Monster Cake one of these days.
How many stars would you give this book and why?
Using the Goodreads star method (where one star equates to Did Not Like and five stars equates to It Was Amazing), I give this book four stars. Overall it was well written and kept my interest. Pepper and Jack were freaking ADORABLE and I wanted to stay in their world forever (and don't think that the pun of their names is lost on me―PepperJack cheese is my FAVE). But, as I mentioned earlier, I think the book was just a bit too predictable in some places, which took some of the fun out of the reading.
If you think this book is (or sounds) as amazing as I think it does, you should pick up Emma Lord's other book You Have A Match. I've already read it and it was great! Learn more about Emma Lord and what she's up to by checking out her website!
Need help with writing? Check out some of my Tips and Tricks, beginning with "5 Ways to Create a Character."
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