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review: “the cupcake queen” December 14, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler.
Dutton Juvenile // Hardcover // 240 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

When her mom uproots her from New York City, Penny is stuck in a small town, helping run the cupcake store her mother has opened. Faced with the cliques of high school, a girl playing pranks on her, and her family’s uncertainty, Penny has little to look forward to. But things start to look up when she meets some new friends, and when a cute boy starts to jog on her beach. Penny struggles with finding acceptance, and her voice.

My summary is absolutely awful. When I sold the book on my floor, I just went with, “Penny’s mom forced her to move to a small town and it sucks.” The teen girl took it immediately. I recommend selling it that way.

That being said, this was a great younger teen novel. So often in YA books, I find myself wondering where the books are for the 7th to 9th graders — or the older ones ones that aren’t ready for hardcore romance or issues or whatever. This book is the answer for that crowd.

It’s a sweet (haha, pun) story really about Penny finding her way — in terms of friends, family, and yes, boys. And it’s also about Penny’s family figuring things out. I found myself frustrated at her parents for not being upfront with her about their separation and subsequent divorce (not really a spoiler, any reader should be able to see what’s coming next), but I think that’s something that a lot of teens will relate to — particularly younger teens.

The romance in the book is chaste, awkward, tentative, quiet — in a word, real. I felt like I was back in seventh grade wondering if the boy in front of me in math class would ever turn around and notice me.

Really, a great book for the younger set. And a great book to introduce tweens reading at a higher level to YA.

SWAN catalog
Heather Hepler




1. kiirstin - December 14, 2009

Ooh. Since some of the teens I see at the library are in the category of having had to move to a small town (and it sucks) I suspect that some of them will relate to this. Sounds like a very nice read.

2. Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) - December 16, 2009

This sounds really good! I like a sweet, non-melodramatic romance from time to time. Nice review too, you’ve really sold me.

3. Kasey - January 5, 2010

I’ve read this book and it was alright, my daughter thought it was a little slow at times, but otherwise fantastic!

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