The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis (review copy) - Amelie Day loves to bake - cupcakes, biscuits, bread, tarts and muffins - so she's thrilled when she's invited to compete in Britain's Best Teen Baker of the Year. But Amelie has Cystic Fibrosis and some days she can barely breathe. Determined not to let her condition or her mum stop her, Amelie musters all her flour power, but will it be enough to get her there? From the blurb
Although I'm not generally a fan of young fiction, with it's brilliant eye-catching cover and intriguing blurb, I just had to give The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis a read. And it's such a sweet (pardon the pun!) story!
Amelie lives to bake. It's all she thinks about; constantly trying to come up with new recipes and twists on old ones, and counts down the minutes until she can bake again. When she gets into the quarter finals of Britain's Best Teen Baker of the year, she is absolutely thrilled. If she wins the competition, it could help set her on her way towards the career in baking she wants! There's just one problem; Amelie has Cystic Fibrosis, and seems to be steadily getting worse. She has trouble breathing and is prone to lung infections. Her Mum is adamant she is far too ill to travel to London to take part in the competition. But this is Amelie's dream - she can't not go!
There is obviously a lot of baking in this book as baking is Amelie's whole life. However, the focus is a lot more on Amelie's Cystic Fibrosis. Her CF is what keeps her from baking and going to school sometimes. Her CF is what has her being late for classes because she can't rush or she'll end up out of breath and start a huge coughing fit. Her CF is why she is so small and slim, because it affects her digestive system - meaning Amelie can eat as much as she wants, because she needs to put on the weight. I didn't know too much about CF before reading Amelie Day, and I was shocked by some of the things I discovered about this genetic condition, like sufferers are lucky if they make it to 40, because there's no cure. Despite how terrible the condition is, Curtis doesn't bog the book down with medical terms or make it too depressing, but it is honest about what CF sufferers go through. It talks about how Amelie will eventually need a lung transplant, and that she has to have a feeding tube put in to help her gain weight. It's educational without being scary.
When it comes to baking, Amelie really knows her stuff. There are a lot of various cakes, biscuits and pastries baked in this book, and she talks through each one, explaining techniques like creaming, and discussing various ingredients and which are better to use. It even includes Amelie's own recipes, which are just awesome! They're not just bog-standard recipes, they've been written by Amelie herself, in her own voice, so they're entertaining to read as well as the story, and easy enough to follow for 8-12-year olds to follow. I used to bake a bit when I was younger, and reading Amelie Day brought all the memories back, and got me excited to start baking again! I am actually going to be trying out one of Amelie's recipes later this week!
As well as CF and baking, there are some moral themes to Amelie Day; doing what you want against doing what you're told. About being responsible, and how your actions can affect others. Its a short novel at 171 pages, but there's quite a lot to take from it.
If there was a negative side to Amelie Day, it would be that it's just a little too young for me, but that's just my personal taste, and I'm not technically the target audience. For those 8-12 year olds, The Baking Life of Amelie Day is a really awesome story!
Thank you to Curious Fox for the review copy.
Published: 11th September 2014
Publisher: Curious Fox
Vanessa Curtis' Website