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The Crepemakers' Bond by Julie CrabtreeThe Crepemakers’ Bond by Julie Crabtree
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Number of pages:  288
My copy:  ebook ARC from Netgalley

Ariel is the head chef in her family kitchen. Cucumber salads, fettuccine carbonara, fish tacos, and peanut butter pie are just a few of the dishes she crafts when she’s feeling frustrated by the world. And it’s turning into a frustrating year. Ariel, Nicki, and Mattie have been inseparable friends since they were little kids, but now Mattie’s mom has decided to move away. It’s the girls’ last year in middle school, and they can’t fathom being separated. The friends concoct a plan that will keep Mattie in the Bay area she’ll move in with Ariel and her family. But before you can say “bff,” the party is over. Everything Mattie does gets on Ariel’s nerves, and it’s not long before the girls are avoiding each other. This was supposed to be their best year ever, but some painful lessons are threatening to tear their friendship apart. Can the girls scramble to make things right before the bond crumbles?

* * *

I am a cookbook person. By that, I mean, I can only cook if there is a cookbook involved. I’m not the type of person who can mix everything they can find in the fridge and make something absolutely amazing with it. I guess this is why I know I’m more of a baker than a chef because baking needs precise steps and ingredients and you just cant throw everything in a mixing bowl and stick it in the oven to see if it would work. In the kitchen, I follow instructions, I don’t give them or make them.

But that doesn’t stop me from watching cooking shows and marveling at the food they make nor reading books that has a lot of food involved. I think that’s one of the reasons why I got attracted to The Crepemakers’ Bond while I was browsing NetGalley — it’s a foodie book. Thrilled with the prospect of reading a novel with food involved, I totally glazed over the fact that this is a book with eighth-graders in them.

Is this where I say uh-oh?

Well, not really. I guess I have been too used to reading books where the characters are already in high school that I expected this book to be one and didn’t read the blurb properly. For the first few pages of the book, I felt confused at how young everyone seemed to be in the book, and at some point, immature. Then I realized that the characters weren’t even in high school yet. Not that high school students are the most mature people in the world (I know I was pretty immature back in high school — don’t you deny you weren’t!). I do have to remind myself every now and then while the characters were making kind of stupid decisions that they are still young and they don’t really know better.

The Crepemakers’ Bond is a pretty good book about changes and friendship. I liked how the author focused on the fact that things change when the person you thought you get along with very well who isn’t in your immediate family starts to get in your nerves when you start living together. There’s a reason why your best friend doesn’t live in the same house as you do (if your best friend isn’t anyone you’re directly related to) if you’re not old enough to have separate activities with them: living with them will drive you nuts. I’ve had my share of living with roommates and we had good relationships because we don’t see each other 24/7. This was a hard lesson for Ariel to learn especially since she really loved M as a sister, but I liked how the author let her go through it with all the rotten feelings that having a fight with a friend entails.

As for the characters, Ariel (named after The Little Mermaid) is a pretty well-rounded protagonist, given her age. She isn’t perfect, but she felt like the perfect and realistic eighth-grader, as compared to the ones I grew up reading in Sweet Valley. I also liked that Ariel had a hobby to take her mind off things, which is cooking. I loved that this book had recipes in between chapters, and they all seemed yummy, too. That seemed like a pretty healthy hobby for a girl her age, both physically and emotionally. I also liked that the recipes had creative and fun names based on when Ariel made them, like Crepes of Wrath or Achy Breaky Artichoke Hearts Dip or Once Misunderstood Twice Baked Potatoes. Plus points, too, for the cooking references at the end of the book — totally useful for non-cooks like me. :P

As much as I liked Ariel, I wasn’t really crazy about her best friends, M and Nicki. M’s single letter nickname kind of got on my nerves after a while in reading and I kept on calling her Mattie in my head. I thought Nicki felt a bit underdeveloped, and I felt that she was very inconsistent as a character. I never felt any connection with her, but perhaps the author really meant for it to be that way? Research in Goodreads tells me that M has her own book, cutely titled Discovering Pig Magic. So maybe Nicki will have her book soon?

Reading this book made me realize that I really am over that stage of my life. While I like reading Young Adult fiction, I don’t think I’d go back to middle grade anymore. This is still a good book, but I may have outgrown it. I guess it’s because I don’t have the same concerns as they do, and I am really just way past that stage of my life. Sure, it’s pretty clean fiction (no sex, drugs or acne treatments here), but it’s kind of hard to relate to their concerns right now.  If I had a younger sister or cousin or niece at that age, I’d recommend this book to her, though, because of the friendship lessons it gives, and borrow it every now and then to try out the recipes. :P

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