Review: 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen

Review: 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on May 17th 2016
Pages: 352
Format:eARC
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?reviews2

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 Good:

  • 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 Not:

  • 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 » 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.

2h

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. 

Posted June 15, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Review / 19 Comments


19 responses to “Review: 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen

  1. Aw I’d love to read this book someday, Shannon. I like how there are certain aspects of mental health integrated into its premise, and I find it intriguing how somewhat practical the situation of Molly is. I’m sorry that some parts didn’t really come to your iiking, like the slut-shaming and the cake, haha. (Sadly, the cake.) 🙁 I’m also very uncertain about your last bullet point — the thing about how insensitive the sister was to mental health. 🙁 But nonetheless, I’d give this book a try only because I’m curious. Haha. Thanks for the review, Shannon!

  2. Hmmm…. I read that spoiler and omgggg it would piss me off and I’d probably rage and not really enjoy the book despite Molly seeming likeable from time to time. I was interested in the book because of the cake aspects, but if it felt unnecessary, well then, PASS!
    Great review, Shannon!

  3. Yikes. The premise sounds lovely, but after reading this review, I don’t think I want to read this. I’m studying to be a psychologist atm, and I think all the things that bothered you would make me so angry despite all the positives, particularly That Thing You’ve Probably Heard About. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shannon!

  4. I just left a ginormous comment on your GR review hahahahah. I COULDN’T RESIST. Ahem. I should’ve waited and stuck it here, but AH WELL. But omg I can only agree with you about the cake. IT WAS POINTLESS. When a book says “100 Days of Cake” I feel like it should matter to a) the storyline and b) the protagonist?!?! I just really wish Molly had been making the cakes…it was SO detached from her life (and I felt she was super ungrateful for her mum at least trying…also it was kind of a weird project though?) GAH. THE WHOLE BOOK WAS JUST WEIRD AND THE ROMANCE WAS EEWWWWW. And I missed the Robin Williams comment when I read it? But that is distasteful and just makes me angry. It was honestly a super problematic story. 🙁

  5. Ali

    I loved this review! Definitely not going to be my cup of tea, but you did a great job laying it all out there (and I read the spoiler for the other book that has the long acronym – WTF!!?). Also – I cannot believe your brother doesn’t like cake. Weirdest person EVER.

  6. I’ve heard so many negatives reviews of this book so I think I’m going to have to skip this one…? It sounds kind of frustrating, especially if mental illness is handled insensitively and slut-shaming. Ugh. I cannot deal with that. At all. This doesnt’ really sound like my sort of thing. Too bad the cover is so pretty…

    Great review as always, Shannon! I think this is one I’m just going to skip.

  7. Yeah I have seen a bunch of mixed reviews on this but I totally read this review for the Golen Girls gifs 🙂 And then rewarded with a HIMYM reference. I totally looked at the spoiler because I probably won’t read this and what in the actual fuck. WOW. Sorry this wasn’t better and didn’t have more cake or cake that made sense or whatever. Great review!!

  8. I love cake. I like all kinds of cakes. Except the super nutty ones. I am not a fan of rich Christmas cakes and I have a small bite only during Christmas time. Great review. I thought of Cait too when I saw the word Cake. Sounds like a fun read for summer

  9. I love the golden girls too as well as cake — so maybe this would be a win?! All kidding aside, I love the GIFs. I do not think this would work for me based on some of the issues you had — slut shaming is no go and I read that spoiler and just NO. cannot do! Great review and glad some of it was accurate and entertaining

  10. GAH!!! I read the spoiler… and… okay, this just sounds horrible. I can’t believe a book with cake in the title AND on the cover was this bad. Yuck. I’m sorry you had to experience this firsthand. Thanks for the heads-up… I WILL be skipping this one. >.<

  11. Oh man, it should come as no surprise that the things you loved are ones I loved and the things you hated were the ones I hated. Ha. GOLDEN GIRLS!!! I freaking love them so hard. I have been watching reruns of them while working out on the elliptical. Love it. As someone who has a Master’s in Counseling, the whole therapist relationship pissed me off so much. It is not uncommon for a patient to develop feelings for his or her therapist (that whole transference thing), but I saw the red flags with the therapist pretty early. There was the whole hating on Alex thing right away, even though Molly had given no indication that Alex was anything but a nice guy. And then the therapist mentioned fights with his girlfriend and stuff like that. You do not ever talk about your personal life with your patients. Ugh, that was crazy annoying. And yeah the slut shaming pissed me off. Elle was so judgmental and hypocritical. She would be all, “Yeah, I know she can wear whatever she wants but . . . . ” And not that she should be dissing on what V wears anyway, but they hated on her for wearing a bikini and a sundress. What the hell? There were several positives about this book, but it sucks that there were so many issues.

  12. I’ve seen reviews that are all over the place for this one. And even the overall GoodReads rating isn’t all that impressive (3.48). This doesn’t sound like one I would pick up… the synopsis alone didn’t pique any interest. But between the slut shaming (ugh, really? still?) and The Thing I’d Already Heard About… nope, nope and more nope. I mean, why go there? Ugh.

  13. Okay, first of all, when I first glanced at the title of this post I totally thought it was somehow going to be about Cait. Like, I really thought that. Secondly, my daughter does not like cake. I thought she was the only human to feel this way, so it’s interesting to know that there IS someone else in the world like her. (Cheesecake is always okay with her, though.)

    Now, onto the book – I just went ahead and read your spoiler because, with your fairly negative review and the fact that this wasn’t on my radar at all, I probably wasn’t going to read it anyway. I am pretty horrified about what I read, so I can safely say I made the right choice. Please tell me there were consequences involved and it didn’t all get swept away.

  14. Ohhhh. I read the spoiler. Wow. Wow.

    Um, yeah this doesn’t really seem like it has anything to do with cake. This seems like a really weird book in general, and I don’t think it is a Val book at all. It would most definitely piss me off in every way imaginable. So I am GLAD you Shannon, have read and reviewed this book for me 😉

  15. Just reading your review really makes me annoyed at some of the insensitivity in this novel and how wrong some things are, including your relationship with your therapist, mental illness and the slut shaming. Thanks for your review lovely!

  16. Hmmm. I admit this never really sounded like a “me” book but it still makes me sad that this book didn’t hit it out of the park. I really liked Goldhagen’s earlier novel In Some Other World, Maybe so I had hopes, you know. Thanks for the thorough review. I love getting lots of details!

  17. I felt the EXACT same way about this book. Regarding all of dis. Yeah totally. Depression = sucksville. But for real, the slutshaming of the sister bothered me and Molly never did anything intervene or be like: “don’t call my sister that!” And when it comes to cake and etc., chapters were titled after cake but no cake was mentioned and/or recipes were given??? Okay. To be honest, it IS somewhat cute but also kinda annoying. Terrific review as always! 😉

  18. Yeah I’m not for slut-shaming. If a book has it, especially YA it’s an automatic drop in the ratings for me. Thank you for writing this lovely review. I know to stay far far away from this book. I mean the insensitivity that is prevalent in this book is enough for me to know I will not enjoy it one bit.

    Great Review!

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