Thursday, January 26, 2012

3.5 Stars for Practice Cake

Summary: There’s one thing Maddie finds more tempting than red velvet cake: her co-worker, Drew. All it takes is one of his sly winks or a playful hip-check by the cooler, and she’s incinerating the cookies. Her boyfriend would not approve.

When a reality TV crew descends upon the bakery, her simple summer job gets even more complicated. Maddie could become the Bakery Network’s next breakout star, if she can handle the heat of being cast as a show villain. Drew has an alternate idea: run away from everything, with him and his sexy tousled hair. She decides to take the leap, but when she finds out Drew’s been hiding a shocking secret, Maddie looks down at her packed suitcase and takes a moment to think. Should she fly off to Australia with a guy she hardly knows, or should she pick up her suitcase and hit him with it?
Practice Cake is a deliciously, sweet bakery filled world with adult temptations for a teenager used to eating only cupcakes. Maddie, the main character, has to grow up and make real life choices that no longer involve term papers and tests. Just out of high school, Maddie gets a job at a local bakery and it turns into quite an adventure. The writer, Dayla Moon does a fantastic job of creating symbolic metaphor out of sweet magical treats for everything Maddie needs and desires in her life. Then, she has to decide what to do with all of the things thrown at her. Without going into great detail and giving away Moon’s fantastic plot weaved with sugar and spice, Maddie is thrown into television, and given the chance to go to Australia with a cute guy. Drawn as an impulsive and typical teen, there is no telling what her choice will be. I was not disappointed in the ending. It is worth reading just to find out.
I did feel Maddie’s voice could have been more uniquely hers. But, I am one of those folks who strongly believe in character first, and plot second. Let me give you two examples to demonstrate my point. The first is from Practice Cake, and the second is from Laurie Halse Anderson’s Prom.
“A dark cloud grew inside me, making me want to yell, or cry, or punch something. I decided to put my head down and focus on my work, if only I could find a few square inches amidst all the TV gear where I could breathe, let alone stand and work.” (Practice Cake)
“Sometimes I wondered why I bothered. Normal kids (me again), we weren’t going to college, no matter what anybody said. I could read and write and add and do nails and fix hair and cook a chicken. I could defend myself and knew which neighborhoods a white girl like me should never, wander in. So why keep showing up for school? Blame my fifth-grade teacher.”(Prom)
Now, both paragraphs are well written, but one is stronger – Anderson’s. Why? Because the voice is more unique and I want to know why this little white girl keeps showing up for school. What did that fifth grade teacher tell her? What makes her think she’s good enough? Already I like her and I’ll follow her to the end of the book, Prom. Maddie is a typical sounding teenager, sweet and beautiful and wholesome, but nonetheless typical. People are used to angry teens, give me something more. In the end, Practice Cake is written well and the plot intricately woven. It is a good life lesson book for any teenager just finishing high school, and I highly recommend it. It’s sweet, wholesome, and from one mother to other mothers with budding teens, please there are not enough of these on the shelves. Please pick it up just for that.

Practice Cake can be purchased at Amazon and Smashwords.


  1. Thanks for this good review. I always am drawn to voice, too. Voice is what makes a character resonate long after you put the book down.


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