Published by Chicken House
Review by Elizabeth Gibson
The sequel to The Secret Cooking Club, Laurel Remington’s Confetti and Cake has a pretty, colourful cover which, combined with the title, gives the impression that the book will be light-hearted and fun. The blurb adds to this idea, and so I expected an easy read that would not be particularly profound. However, I was in for a shock – Confetti and Cake is, in reality, a complex novel with real depth and some incredibly sad and heavy moments. It moved me, made me think, and never failed to surprise me.
The protagonist is Scarlett, a thirteen-year-old aspiring cook whose blog becomes an unexpected success and catapults her to fame. As well as learning to live with her newfound stardom, Scarlett has to come to terms with her mother remarrying, her father’s attempts to contact her after years of silence, and the approaching anniversary of the death of her best friend’s parents.
Scarlett also navigates the tricky waters of first love, and struggles to find a balance between online life and real life – something I imagine many of today’s young people will be able to relate to. Overall, there are a number of thorny issues handled in the novel, and I really respect that.
Between all of the obstacles and dramas, Scarlett finds solace in her friends and in cooking and baking. The descriptions of her edible creations are so detailed and gorgeous; it is clear that the author had a ball designing them. The camaraderie between the members of the Cooking Club is uplifting, and little details such as the kitchen cat, Treacle, and the very special recipe book help to cultivate an atmosphere of snugness and warmth.
One sticking point for me is that the characters’ behaviour often doesn’t match their ages. Before discovering, towards the end of the novel that Scarlett is thirteen, I had assumed she was ten or eleven. Overall, this didn’t really stop me enjoying the story, but it is maybe something the author should consider if she decides to write more books in the series.
There is also a moment when Scarlett describes how she is suffering from feelings that resemble serious anxiety. It could have been a chance to discuss mental health issues in teenagers, but instead it is written off – at least for now – as “stage fright”. This is another element that could definitely be explored in a future instalment in the series, with Scarlett perhaps seeking help to deal with her fears.
I found the novel’s ending slightly strange and unrealistic, but it did make for an emotional finale. Confetti and Cake is very different to what I expected based on its title and aesthetic, but it impressed me and I am keen to read the prequel. It is great to see children’s books tackle big issues while also maintaining a gentle, cosy feel and incorporating delicious sweet treats. I really recommend this novel, though if you pick it up, prepare to crave cake!