Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: Dear Julia by Amy Bronwen Zemser

Today I'll be heading out to go back home.  I'm a little sad, and as always feeling that nostalgic "I wish" a bit too much.  For some reason, I always seem to wish I were more of a beach bum, or more of a water enthusiast, or that I'd exercised just a little more, or that I'd read more.  It's that bit of myself that I actually have to fight and tell myself that it really was a glorious summer, and take the lovely memories away with me.  Aloha to my second home and family!

One book I did manage to finish last week before I returned my library books was Dear Julia by Amy Bronwen Zemser.  I'd had this book on my "To Be Read" list for over a year, so it was nice to finally get a chance to read this one.  What an interesting little read!

Synopsis:  Young Elaine Hamilton was a different girl.  She wanted more than anything to learn how to master French cooking as her idol Julia Child had in the past.  From her childhood, she read her cookbooks like most children read fiction, and practiced making sauces and omelets from an early age.  By the time she was in school and faced with peers who had very different interests, all Elaine wanted to do was to get home each night to perfect another French cooking skill.  Then, into her life walked another quirky girl who loved drama and had big plans for the future.  Although more into the limelight than Elaine, their friendship pushed Elaine to show more of herself to others than she ever wanted to in the first place.

Review:  This was one of the quirkiest little books I'd read in awhile.  Since I genuinely love to read "foodie lit," I'd wanted to read this one for quite some time.  The references to sauces, pastries, and meat preparations were glorious, and made me a bit jealous that such a young girl could master them!  Elaine was truly an introvert.  Her likes and dislikes so different from other teenagers, that it was hard to even say she was a teen.  Her best friend in the story, also a big eccentric, really brought Elaine to a place where she could actually see her dreams of attending culinary school in France. 

There is this interesting blend of foodie knowledge and YA angst that makes this novel especially interesting.  It has the feel of other young adult novels that deal with really quirky teenagers, with their masked and bottled insecurities and their hopes all kept under wraps.  I really liked Elaine though, and wanted her to find herself and showcase her amazing talents!  It was truly a fun read that was completely out of the ordinary from anything I'd read before.  You do get a sense for how it might end, but the story itself feels strangely new.  I really enjoyed the book, and although thought the characters were real oddballs, I enjoyed watching them take their insecurities and oddities and showing their value to society.  Just a great little book that is out of the norm! 

If you like foodie type literature, then I would give this a try.  Yes, it's a pretty quirky story, but still fun.  Now, if I could just learn to make an omelet or crepes for myself!

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based off of a library copy of the novel.

This book counts as my 6th in the TBR Challenge.  Only six more to go! 


  1. This book sounds really, really fun! And not just because I was that kind of quirky teenager. ;)

  2. Good luck with the transition back to the mainland. It must be hard to leave Hawaii behind!

  3. Wow, your time there really did fly by didn't it. This book sounds so good - I love foodie books.

  4. I can't believe your summer in Hawaii is over with already!! This sounds like a cute read-and I do love foodie books.

  5. Heidenkind--It was interesting. Quirky says it all in this case. Now you make me wonder what you were like as a teen!!! What were your quirks?!?

    Booksyn--Thanks. So nice of you. It was hard getting out of there, and it has been even harder adjusting back to this time here! It is nice though being home.

    Darlene--I love foodie books too! I'm always looking out for good ones. This one was odd, but fun all at the same time.

    Buckeye Girl--I know, this summer went by so quickly! I'll be back to work next week, which almost makes me sick. Oh well. Yes, foodie books are the best! You can read about the food and not gain a pound. LOL.