Book Review: The Cupcake Queen

The Cupcake Queen
By: Heather Hepler
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books, 2009
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchased by Reviewer

What would you do if life suddenly changed more drastically than you could ever imagine? Well, that’s exactly what happens to 14 year old Penny Lane during the summer before her freshman year of high school. Her parents have decided to separate for awhile. Her mom packs her up and drags her to the small town of Hog’s Hollow. Penny has now entered her own personal hell. Life in Hog’s Hollow is nothing like life in New York City. How can she possibly adjust?

Penny’s solution to the adjustment problem is to just ignore reality and keep living in the dream that she and her mom will return to New York soon. After all, they haven’t even bought a house in Hog’s Hollow; they share a beach front home with her grandmother. Penny’s mother is setting down some roots by opening up a cupcake bakery in town, but that can’t seriously mean that Penny will never escape small town life.

This story is one of a young girl who has to learn to deal with the fraying remnants of her parents’ marriage, moving to a new place, making new friends, first love, and all the other things that make being a teenage so hard. Hepler does an awesome job of capturing those difficult teen moments with her prose.

I picked this book up for the cover. What can I say? I’m a sucker for cupcakes. This book definitely delivers on the cupcake front, but a nasty little side effect is my constant craving for the sugary food while reading. Aside from that, I thought this book was very well done. I would say it’s more for younger teens, but older teens might like it as well. It’s a pretty quick read and I loved the characters.

Summary from author’s website:

Six months ago, if someone had said the word cupcake, it probably wouldn’t have even registered. I mean, sure, who doesn’t like them? But a whole bakery devoted just to cupcakes? I asked my mother that when she told me. “Nothing else?” She just laughed like it was the funniest thing I’d said all day. I didn’t quite believe it until I saw the man putting the final touches on the lettering on the window: “The Cupcake Queen”.

When she said, “I’m going to open a bakery”, dumb me, I thought she meant in New York. And while it was surprising, I wasn’t really surprised. My mom has always been what she calls “vaguely artistic”. I started to get excited as she talked about the bakery idea. I pictured a tiny shop in Soho that made specialty cakes and got featured in the Food Section of The New York Times. Then she told me the bakery wasn’t going to be in the City at all, but out here. Here, in Hog’s Hollow, where they actually crown a Hog Queen every fall.