Unfortunately, Love á la Mode did not prove to be the book I hoped it would be. While it had so many of the elements I loved, there was just not enough cooking. Set in a super exclusive cooking program in Paris, I was SO READY for the culinary lessons and cutthroat competition. However, there was much less time spent in the kitchen and much more time focused on the miscommunication teenage relationship drama.
The story is told in alternating POVs between Henry (who's always dreamed of opening a restaurant after growing up in his parent's family owned establishment) and Rosie (the midwestern girl from "America's Heartland" who just wants to be a pastry chef and examine crumb structures). While they have a bit of a "meet cute" on the airplane headed to France, I didn't really feel much chemistry between them, and honestly feel like I didn't really get to know them at all. I wanted to learn more about Rosie's family dynamic with all of her brothers, about Henry's family restaurant and his upbringing with a chef father- but sadly only a few bits and pieces are really revealed and instead we get to know the characters through their inevitable ~relationship drama~ and I was just not really feeling it. I felt like it was actually not a super healthy courtship and Henry treated Rosie like dirt a lot of the time (and even though as I reader I got Henry's perspective, I still didn't think the expectations and standards he imposed on her were fair and OK). In fact, there's a bit of a love triangle and I was whole-heartedly voting for the other guy who was honestly a much nicer, more personable, more MATURE person than Henry.
There were also a few problematic stereotypes in the story. There's a stereotypical beautiful, popular mean girl who never gets humanized and her character is never really fleshed out (and she's not necessary to the plot at all so really the narrative could have excluded perpetuating this harmful girl-on-girl hate). Henry's mother is also super one dimensional and is only focused on his grades and is an overbearing presence in his life, which I think is harmful because it's never really resolved in a real way (rather a band-aid is put on the situation) and given Henry's Asian heritage perpetuates a stereotype of an overbearing mother that was uncomfortable.
While I took issue with many of the elements of the plot, I did enjoy reading about the food elements when they appeared. I loved the first culinary class they have when they have to create a perfect "french omelette" (which I hear is usually the first thing you learn in culinary school) and it was fascinating to read each character's interpretation of what that meant. While there were far too few scenes in the culinary classroom for my taste, there were some wonderful food scenes when the characters went out and about around Paris, including a positively magical crepe experience and a boulangerie run by an adorable gentle giant chef with every type of bread and pastry imaginable (I almost felt myself gaining weight reading about all of the bread, croissants, tarts, etc. that the characters devoured from this single shop). There was also a great friend group that had characters that were really supportive of each other, and I adored Hampus (seriously best character of the book, how many teenage dudes would rock a Marié from Aristocats Halloween outfit)?
Overall: While Love á la Mode was a fun and quick read, it left me wanting more from the kitchen and fell into many tropes and stereotypes that didn't sit well with me.This review was originally posted on Girl in the Pages
- Started reading
- 12 January, 2019: Finished reading
- 12 January, 2019: Reviewed