Title // Love a la Mode
Author // Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publisher // Disney Hyperion
Publication Date // November 27, 2018
My Rating // ★★★★☆
Synopsis // Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.
Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.
Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.
This was basically Anna and the French Kiss except it doesn’t suck. I don’t want to start this review by talking about another book, but I have to say it! Because I have strong feelings about Anna and the French Kiss being one of the literal all time worst books I’ve ever read, yet for some reason that book is insanely popular and this book is pretty unheard of but it’s a really similar premise except 10000x better.
This book is about two teenagers, Rosie and Henry, heading over to Paris for an elite culinary boarding school. They venture into the amazing city (can you tell I really want to visit??), hang out with their friend groups, and (this one is unlike Anna) really grow as people. (And also they aren’t completely insufferable so there’s another difference).
Now, I must dedicate a paragraph to food, because food is honestly life tbh. This book is an absolute foodie dream! There are pages and pages of descriptions of food, from detailing the difference between and French and regular omelette, talking about intricately cutting vegetables into perfect shapes, delicately arranging fruit tarts to look like roses…basically, make sure you have some food on hand as you read this book. Cooking is truly an art for these students, and it’s so clear through the writing how much they just adore cooking, and how it means the absolute world to them. There are descriptions of personal memories and associations that food have, as well as cultural foods unique to different regions of the world, and honestly this is the best possible way to show food.
For the most part, I really enjoyed the characters. My favorite was Rosie of course, and I really related to her love of baking! I love how it was so clear how passionate she was about cooking, and how even though she struggled with it a lot, she refused to give up or stop loving it because it was just that important to her. Her interactions with her roommate and other friends were so fun, with their banter about a exclusive club of people who failed at making omelettes, trying to decipher what exactly a French menu says, and just overall lots of fun things!
The romance…was unfortunately probably my only complaint with this book in that I didn’t really like the romance. It wasn’t one that I really hated, but I definitely didn’t love it either. There is a sort of love triangle that forms, but it’s pretty obvious (given the fact that the book has split POV between a guy and a girl and they’re mentioned to be falling in love with each other literally in the synopsis) that it’s going to be Henry.
The thing is, I didn’t really like Henry. He gets jealous and irritable to Rosie because she’s literally talking to another guy. Like, is Rosie not allowed to have any male friends? Meanwhile, the other guy, Bodie, is, according to the book description, a “bad-boy baker.” This was pretty stupid because he’s literally never shown to be a bad boy he’s the literal definition of a sweetheart cinnamon bun and I think he’s just marketed as a bad boy because apparently that’s a YA trope that sells well? But he loves baking and makes the best cookies and I just love his interactions with Rosie so I cherished them however small and limited they were.
There was so much effortless diversity in this book too. Taking place in a boarding school in Paris, it enrolls students from all around the world! There were students from America, but also other places like Sweden and Japan as well. They all at one point made dishes from their hometowns, foods from all sorts of cultures from all around the world, and I just loved it!
Overall, this is a really light fluffy feel good fast read. I read the entire book in one sitting in like two hours, and definitely enjoyed my time with it. It’s not like changing makes you reevaluate your existence or anything, but it’s really enjoyable and I definitely recommend! (Also, now I’m off to go eat).