A wonderful YA Contempory- Book Review

Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck

Publication Date: June 8, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

The future is anything but certain in this alternately funny and heartbreaking contemporary story about food trucks, festivals, and first loves.

It’s easy to look at high school senior Oscar Olsson and think: lost. He hates school, struggles to read, and wants nothing to do with college. But Oscar is anything but lost—he knows exactly what he wants and exactly how to get it. Oscar and Farfar, the Swedish grandfather who’s raised him, run a food truck together selling rullekebab and munkar, and Oscar wants to finish school so he can focus on the food truck full-time.

It’s easy to look at Mary Louise (Lou for short) Messinger and think: driven. AP everything, valedictorian in her sights, and Ivy league college aspirations.

When Lou hijacks Oscar’s carefully crafted schedule of independent studies and blocks of time in the Culinary Lab, Oscar is roped into helping Lou complete her over-ambitious, resume-building service project-reducing food waste in Central Adams High School. While Lou stands to gain her Girl Scout Gold Award, Oscar will be faced with a mountain of uneaten school apples and countless hours with a girl he can’t stand.

With the finish line in sight, a relationship he never expected, and festival season about to begin (for good), the unthinkable happens, and Oscar’s future is anything but certain.

ARC provided by Random House Children’s via NetGalley for an honest review.

I absolutely loved this book! It is probably the best YA contemporary that I have read in awhile. It is so realistic with believable characters that you just want to hang out with. It is being advertised as a romance and while there is a one it isn’t what the story is really about. It is about family and following your dreams even if they don’t meet others expectations of you.

Oscar or Gubben (which is what he is called by his grandfather) is such a soft and wonderful character that many are going to be able to relate to. He loves to bake and would be happiest just to leave school and work in his grandfather’s (Farfar) food truck. School has always been hard, it is hinted that there is a learning disability but nothing concrete, so senior year is not something he is looking forward to. His struggles and attitude towards school is something many kids can relate to. Oscar’s relationship with his Farfar is what takes center stage for the most part in this story, and what a wonderful relationship it is. Farfar has wonderful advice for Oscar which he doles out in small portions and sometimes Oscar hears it, but sometimes is frustrated by it to.

Lou is such a good match for Oscar, although it takes him a long time to realize it. The romance aspect of the story was exceptionally well done and was very realistic. I loved how Lou just quietly entered his life and waited for him to accept her presence and realize that she was the best thing that ever happened to him.

There were other adults in Oscar’s life that also help and influence him along the way. A couple of them are even teachers. His speech teacher Mrs. Sommers does an excellent job of gently encouraging him and Mrs. Bixler who was in charge of the culinary lab was always there for him to help with suggestions about baking and life. I loved them both.

The story was just so nicely done, with Oscar being our sole narrator. It just felt so authentic and realistic, like I was just hanging out with Oscar and watching him bake and just having a great time doing it. There is a steady pacing to the story, and a lot of it is just Oscar’s thoughts and feelings about life. The whole story line of waste reduction in the cafeteria was amusing, and I could appreciate how they solved the issue even though it involved a dis on Washington apples. I would advise not reading this hungry, because there is some delicious descriptions of cooking and baking that will make you crave cupcakes and munkar.

If you are looking for a soft contemporary romance with characters that are believable and realistic, this is a book you should definitely take a look at. You will find yourself smiling the whole way through.

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