The Secret Ingredient

The Secret Ingredient - Stewart Lewis "tell me this," i say. "do you think there's some grand scheme to our lives and we just have to, like, give in to it?"

the truth about this book is that it disappointed me. there's not much more to it than that. when i saw the cover and read the synopsis, i was absolutely sure that i needed this book. i'm adopted, for all intents and purposes, and i've recently developed an affinity for cooking, so everything about this book's set up screamed for me to read it. for the first 20%, i was thinking about how happy i was that this book was turning out pretty decent after all of my anticipation, but after that, it just got progressively worse and worse and worse.

even in the beginning, i thought that olivia (or one of her thousand nicknames) was a little bit of a selfish twit, and that she was incredibly judgmental of her family, and i even got the vibe that she thought of herself as above them somehow, and that theme stayed prevalent throughout this novel in its entirety. she was cold and entirely unforgiving of her brother -- admittedly, he was kind of a screw up, but she was such a holier than thou bitch about it that i just wanted to shake her and tell her not to make her brother cry anymore.

beyond all of that, this girl had an annoying habit of making everything about herself. her best friend's mother got cancer, for the love of god, and her only response was that she wondered what it was like to have a mother to lose? fuck you, honestly. her boyfriend was incredibly boring and for some reason, i just thought that he was kind of creepy, plus the whole pre-existing romance (to get out of having to write one that took actual effort) trope is really off-putting for me personally.

overall, this was a decent read, though it had little to nothing to do with the main character. i appreciated that her mother wasn't some apologetic bleeding heart - that she stood by her decision, was honest about it, and even proud of it; giving up your child because you would be an unfit parent is not something to be ashamed of. many children would prefer a loving home to a blood-related one, if the two were mutually exclusive.

the best part was this, though: the story she finds in her cookbook is beautiful - it's well-written, well played out, and i loved how i got a sense of completion from it, even though it made my heart ache. i wish this story had been about rose, kurt, and eloise instead of olivia the selfish drama queen.