Title/Author: The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis
Publisher/Year: Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 11, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Other Books by Author: You Have Seven Messages, Rockstarlet: A Novel
How I got this Book: eARC from NetGalley, Thank you!
Summary From Goodreads:
For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Whycomes a journey of family, food, romance, and self-discovery as Olivia, a teen chef living in L.A., finds a vintage cookbook and begins a search for her birthmother that will change her life forever.
Olivia doesn’t believe in psychics. But the summer before her senior year of high school, she meets one in an elevator.
This summer will be pivotal, the psychic warns. Please remember—all your choices are connected.
Olivia loves her life in Silverlake, Los Angeles, but lately, something’s been missing. And after getting this strange advice, her world begins to change. A new job leads Olivia to a gorgeous, mysterious boy named Theo. And as Olivia cooks the recipes from a vintage cookbook she stumbles upon, she begins to wonder if the mother she’s never known might be the secret ingredient she’s been lacking.
But sometimes the things we search for are the things we’ve had all along.
When I started The Secret Ingredient, I was really looking forward to it! I’ve been reading a lot of light, beach reads lately and so I thought this would be another good book like that to read. For the first 50 pages or so I wasn’t fully invested in the story for whatever reason, I do not know. All of a sudden I was drawn into the book and had finished it in a mere afternoon!
This book focuses on Olivia, a teenager living in Los Angeles with her adopted brother and their adoptive parents. Olivia’s family is not traditional – her parents are a gay couple – but she’s never really had a problem with this. Once in a while she would wonder what it would be like to have a mom, but never longer than a fleeting thought. But more and more these days Olivia has been thinking about her mom, and who she might be. She sets out on a journey to find her birth mother, and stumbles upon a new job, a new boy, and a vintage cookbook along the way.
Olivia is a cook, and she has always loved cooking. After finding the vintage cookbook, she begin to cook a lot of the recipes from it. She notices some notes scrawled in the margins of the cookbook from the old owner, and tries to imagine her life story. Olivia has a really good time picturing the old owner and all of the things that she may or may not have experienced in her life. Sometimes, Olivia even writes little notes back to the owner in the cookbook. I really liked the secondary plot of the book that involved this cookbook.
The boy Olivia meets and eventually starts dating is Theo. Although I liked their relationship together (SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD: except the sort-of ending of it) I really didn’t connect with Theo, and/or think that their relationship was relevant to the main plot of Olivia finding her birth mother.
Although I ended up devouring this book in one afternoon, I did not LOVE it. I liked it, I thought it was good, I just didn’t LOVE it. The plotline was quite loose, but I think that worked okay for the story. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a fun, light beach read that you can power through in a day!
Have you read anything by Stewart Lewis? Does this book sound like something you might like? Do you like finding vintage books like cookbooks and looking through them for evidence of the past owner?