Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on May 17th 2016
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
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Get well soon isn’t going to cut it in this quirky and poignant debut novel about a girl, her depression, an aggressive amount of baked goods, and the struggle to simply stay afloat in an unpredictable, bittersweet life.
There are only three things that can get seventeen-year-old Molly Byrne out of bed these days: her job at FishTopia, the promise of endless episodes of Golden Girls, and some delicious lo mien. You see, for the past two years, Molly’s been struggling with something more than your usual teenage angst. Her shrink, Dr. Brooks isn’t helping much, and neither is her mom who is convinced that baking the perfect cake will cure Molly of her depression—as if cake can magically make her rejoin the swim team, get along with her promiscuous sister, or care about the SATs.
Um, no. Never going to happen.
But Molly plays along, stomaching her mother’s failed culinary experiments, because, whatever—as long as it makes someone happy, right? Besides, as far as Molly’s concerned, hanging out with Alex at the rundown exotic fish store makes life tolerable enough. Even if he does ask her out every…single…day. But—sarcastic drum roll, please—nothing can stay the same forever. When Molly finds out FishTopia is turning into a bleak country diner, her whole life seems to fall apart at once. Soon she has to figure out what—if anything—is worth fighting for.
**True story- this was going to be in one of my mini-reviews… but then I wanted to use a crap ton of The Golden Girls GIFs so it got its own full review. You’re welcome, I think?
I have “the mixed feelings”, guys. There were some parts of this book that were endearing to me, and then some parts that had me shaking my head. But in the interest of positivity, let’s start with the good, shall we?
- The Golden Girls. It might seem weird that this is my first bullet point, but maybe you don’t understand how much love I have for the Golden Girls. (May most of them rest in peace.) Alex won me over immediately by hanging out with Molly in a fish store watching The Golden Girls. What are you waiting for, Molly?
- As someone who has traveled (travels, really) the depression path, I think that Molly’s situation was definitely well represented. Molly wasn’t always fun to be around. She wasn’t always a great friend. Because she was going through shit. She’d take some steps forward, and then take some steps back. It was all so accurate, and I liked that the author never painted this rosy picture of what depression looks like.
- I truly did feel a connection to Molly. Even though there were so many times that I just wanted to shake my head at her and say “oh, honey” (HIMYM reference, anyone?), I couldn’t help but relate and sympathize.
- Molly was a swimmer. And we know that I am unabashedly biased when it comes to swimming in books. Molly even talks about swimming in relation to her depression- and both depictions were accurate!
“I’ve always been kind of obsessive about grades and art class and big meets and stuff, but it got to the point where little things like having to pee when I’d already put on both practice suits could bring me to tears, and it just became easier to give up on stuff.”
- Her family was present. Not perfect, but at least trying, you know? Granted, sometimes I wanted to smack them for some insensitive remarks, but… yeah, they were trying.
- The Thing You’ve Probably Heard About. All the other stuff that I didn’t like about this book pales in comparison to TTYPHA. I had people straight up ask me while I was reading to spoil them about TTYPHA, because they were so uncomfortable with it. So for you folks who want to know… View Spoiler »Molly has the hots for her therapist. Which in itself is not abnormal. But he doesn’t like the Alex dude, which threw me off, because he seemed nice. So I felt… funny. But then he is eating dinner at her house *red flag*, showing up at her FishFest (I don’t remember what it was really called) *red flag*, and then kissing her *call the cops* and then trying to basically rape her *holy shit you guys, WHERE ARE THE COPS?!*, and then basically trying to convince her not to have him stripped of his license. *911* « Hide Spoiler And for those of you who don’t want to know, let’s just say that the therapy was not handled in a great way at all, on a lot of levels. There was no redemption for TTYPHA.
- Slut shaming. Look, slut shaming is never okay, and in this case, it was just confusing because no one was doing anything that I’d consider to fall into the “slutty” definition anyway. Like, Molly’s sister wears… clothes. Like, clothes a girl would wear in the summer to a pool party. And Molly and her friend Elle had a (vulgar) field day dissecting the sister.
“‘So seriously, what was up with V’s hoochie mama getup?’ Elle asks. ‘Was she going cock shopping?'”
Then later, continues with this gem, though Molly finally does moderately defend her sister:
“”It’s obviously her prerogative’- Elle is still talking- ‘but it was like your sister was ready for a Girls Gone Wild audition.’ ‘I thought she looked kind of pretty,’ I say, which is the truth.
- The cake part of the book…. I didn’t think it was necessary? Ironically, since that is the book’s title. And I am pretty sure that Cait is going to smite me or something for saying cake is unnecessary but… that’s what I am saying. There ends up being a “reason”, but… meh.
- Sometimes her sister was very insensitive about mental health, and flippant about suicide, which really pissed me off. Look, I know she is fifteen and all, but the gravity of suicide is not something to joke about. There is a line that, while I am not certain is in the finished copy (and I really hope isn’t, someone go look for me) that made me mad and sad all at once. Molly and her sister are arguing over usual sisterly nonsense, when Veronica spews this abomination:
“‘With all her baking and worrying that you’re gonna Robin Williams yourself, she doesn’t really have a whole lot of free time anymore, does she?’ V says.”
Well. Then. This isn’t the only time V uses suicide to hurt Molly (she later tells her that she should kill herself so they can move on with their lives) but it is definitely inappropriate as hell. I’m not saying it’s totally unrealistic that an angry fifteen year old would lash out, but it is a hard thing to read when it is in reference to an actual human being who ended his life. That is the part that upset me the most.
Bottom Line: While it isn’t a bad book by any means, and was entertaining, some of the things that bothered me really bothered me, and I certainly can’t overlook that. I think this book may be a case of whether you are okay with some of the things I wasn’t okay with- and if so, it is a good read, and it does portray Molly’s depression fabulously.
My brother does not like cake. Do you know any such beast? Do you not like cake? I like cake. Not cake with fruit, because that’s cheating. But cheesecake is always acceptable.
**Quotes taken from uncorrected proof, subject to change.