Chantal is a planner, and her summer-before-senior-year plan requires best friend Jillian, resumé updating, and studying for AP classes. Jillian wants something different and is afraid to leave introverted Chantal in the dust. All that changes, though, when popular classmates Parker and Will suspiciously start hanging out with the girls.
Chantal only sees one thing: Jillian ditching her for Parker—a guy who can’t even be trusted! Chantal hatches a new plan, one that will expose Parker and Will for what they truly are, and along the way, get her best friend back with the littlest lie and a lot of mouthwatering cake. After all, what are best friends for?
"Two good girls, two deceitful guys, and one wicked sweet plan for revenge."
A revenge story involving cake and other scrumptious delights? What could make for a better light-hearted summer read?
Wicked Sweet is narrated by four different people: Chantal, Jillian, Parker, and Will. Sometimes a chapter and switch in narration consists of a few pages; other times, it's only one page. This made for a few jarring scene changes, but nothing too distracting from the story. Each character certainly had their own "voice" and it was easy to tell who was narrating, even without their name at the top of the chapter. Chantal and Jillian are said to have a close relationship, but it's an odd one, too. Though they've known each other since third grade, they are still not entirely honest with each other, and apparently, not very observant of the issues each of them is facing at home.
Chantal suffers from serious OCD, which only seems to get worse as the story goes on. She even starts hearing voices when she channels Nigella Lawson, famed food writer/broadcaster. Her plan for revenge against the boys was, honestly, rather silly. I think a real teenage girl could have come up with something much more vengeful, but I also understand that it likely wasn't in Chantal's personality to be overly catty. Her home life is rather dreary, with a health-conscious, perfectionist mother, and a father who, while supportive, just goes along for the ride. I initially enjoyed witnessing Chantal blossoming into a successful baker and discovering a new passion, but her passion quickly becomes obsession, which seems to be a theme in her life.
Jillian, on the other hand, is a girl who had to grow up before her time. Her mother is a free-spirited hippie who flits around from guy to guy, leaving Jillian alone to take care of her six little brothers, all under the age of ten. Jillian has known at least four fathers, whom she labels as "Dad 1", "Dad 2" and so on. She spends much of the book trying to force her mother to take some responsibility, all while attempting to live a normal teenage life during the summer before her senior year of high school. I felt for Jillian more than anyone else in the story. I was baffled that no one bothered to do a damn thing about her situation, which was incredibly serious. I wanted to call the DCFS and file a complaint of neglect and emotional abuse against her mother. She didn't give half a hoot about her children, and I wanted to reach into the book and smack her. UGH!
Will, the main protagonist, certainly suffered his share of grief at home, but I didn't really feel that bad for him. The things he did to Chantal as they grew up together took away any real sympathy I could have had for him. He was probably the least memorable and sympathetic character of them all. Parker, Jillian's first real love interest, started off a bit shaky but eventually grew into a sweet, loyal boyfriend and leader. His life was probably the most "cushy" of all the characters, coming from a successful, close-knit family. Though his parents did have unreasonable expectations, they did care for him and about his future.
The synopsis for Wicked Sweet is a bit deceitful. While there are certainly lighter moments, and even a few that make you laugh out loud, there are also some incredibly serious issues that are never fully addressed. I feel like this book could have been cut in half and been much better. As it stands, however, I felt that Wicked Sweet was entirely too long and did not have a clear focus. I kept checking my page count to see how far away I was from the end, and with about 20 pages left, I even seriously considered just giving up. When I finally reached the end, I was pretty indifferent as to how things turned out for each of the characters.
Overall, Wicked Sweet features quirky characters, mouth-watering baking scenes, and a vaguely entertaining plot. Unfortunately, like the poor man on the cover, it was a bit of a cake-bomb for me, but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it.
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.