Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success

Wednesday Bks. May 2023. 320p. Tr $20. ISBN 9781250862525.
Gr 8 Up–Afro-Cuban American Rubi Ramos lives for baking. Good thing her family runs two bakeries—except she’s been forbidden by her mom to follow in their footsteps. Instead, they want her to follow a preset plan to go to Alma University to become a lawyer. But when the debate team captain hears about a baking contest, she can’t resist, and decides to sign up anyway. She also can’t resist her adorable math tutor Ryan (who cues as white), whose tutelage will hopefully help her get off the college’s wait list. Rubi is trying to define herself at every turn. Parra’s debut hits all the required items on the romantic comedy checklist, but readers won’t mind. The engaging plot, relatable protagonist, and cast of lovable secondary characters make this familiar and poignant tale one that teens will be drawn to. The Orange County/Los Angeles setting also shines through. Additional layers about not wanting to disappoint her immigrant parents, especially as a first-generation college student, and the racism and classism she must endure, give this romance some heft. Rubi’s struggle to define herself while not letting her family down will resonate with teens. The baking puns and references sometimes get old, but the descriptions of the food will make readers want to raid their pantries for some goodies. This is the kind of book that will leave a smile on readers’ faces at every page turn.
VERDICT A scrumptious debut that fans of Nina Moreno’s books will want to savor.

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