The Sweet Life of Stella Madison
Lara M. Zeises
2009; Delacorte Press (Random House); ISBN 978-0-385-73146-1 (hardcover)
Summary: It's the summer before her senior year, and Stella think her summer's all set. She'll spend time with her boyfriend Max, who's just said the L-word. She'll get rides and hang out with her friends Olivia and Kat. And she'll work for her mom at the Open Kitchen, a restaurant/food demonstration kitchen, where her father the cook often prepares special meals. As the daughter of foodies, Stella knows about chiffonade and ceviche, but she prefers cheeseburgers and cinnamon twists. But then her summer gets some unexpected new ingredients, like Jeremy, the flirty intern at the Kitchen. And then there's Stella's new job, working as an intern for a local paper . . . and writing about food. Will Stella's summer turn out like a perfect crepe or fall faster than a souffle?
A novel that's like your first glass of summer lemonade, The Sweet Life of Stella Madison is definitely a good-for-you read. Zeises brings her knack for realistic teen protagonists to the story of Stella, a "bouncing rubber ball" girl who wants to figure out what she really wants, and then get it. She spends the summer torn between Jeremy, who likes her but won't make a move, and Max, who is the perfect boyfriend. Meanwhile, her separated-but-not-divorced parents are slowly getting back into the dating pool--with other people--leaving Stella confused about her emotions. Add in her worries over writing about food and Stella's got a lot to deal with. Yet as the summer progresses, Stella finds her own voice and her own way. The Sweet Life of Stella Madison is a great choice for any reader who wants to find themselves, and perfect for burgeoning foodies. Pair this with Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw for a similar experience from a boy's perspective.