Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray
Published August 2016 by Alma Books
RRP AUD $19.99
Liv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets her out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.
Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.
Caramel Hearts is such a sweet story! Heh, get it? As soon as I opened the book and read the first chapter, I was hooked. The writing style is just as lovely as the cover. Each character has a distinctive voice, and I loved how I could hear their accent in my head as I read to myself. It’s a perfect read to brighten up your spirits on a rainy day.
All of the characters in the story were really well-developed and realistically flawed. I really felt for the girls! They’ve been through so much and I love the sisterly bond they have, and though it’s not perfect, it’s real. Even though Liv is your typical angsty teenager, her angst was believable and I didn’t get annoyed at her. I could really understand how she was feeling throughout the book, and I didn’t blame her for her actions, even though I didn’t agree with them all the time.
The recipes are adorable and make such a wonderful addition to a sweet story, and I love how they fit in perfectly with how the story is at the time (read more in this guest post written by the lovely E.R. Murray herself!). After finishing the book, I was really tempted to start baking. Although the premise of the book is sweet, the story itself isn’t sugar coated, which I found to work really well. The themes of bullying and addiction are there, and are laced throughout the story in a way that younger YA readers will be able to understand and gain an insight on.
I was so happy with how things ended! Although, I would’ve liked a little more about what happened afterwards. The only real downsides of the book were that I kept getting hungry, but couldn’t taste Liv’s creations.
Elizabeth “E.R.” Murray has been kind enough to write a guest post too! It’s about the recipes in the story and features a recipe for rocky road, check it out here!
I received a review copy of Caramel Hearts from the publisher.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Rose Murray lives in West Cork, Ireland, where she fishes, grows her own vegetables and enjoys outdoor adventures. Her debut, The Book of Learning: Nine Lives Trilogy 1 is the Dublin UNESCO Citywide Read for 2016. Caramel Hearts is her first book for young adults. Elizabeth loves travel, and has taught creative writing in schools around the world, including Cambodia. While travelling, Elizabeth also parachuted out of an aeroplane, swam with sharks and stingrays, and ate lots of insects.