by Maisy Dee
Craig has pined for Emily since the fourth grade. Imagine his surprise when, when at the start of his junior year, he discovers that she has finally noticed him. When Emily returns to school the fall of her junior year, she finds that her old friend Craig has transformed from a gangly, brace-faced adolescent into a blue-eyed babe who is making her insides tingle.
Craig and Emily stir up a sweet and sexy adventure, exploring new recipes both in and out of the kitchen. But when things heat up on New Year’s Eve, Craig is not sure he can stand it. Is he man enough for Emily? And what recipes have his closest friends Ryan and John been cooking up without telling him?
In alternating points of view, Emily and Craig search for the secret ingredients of friendship, love and intimacy. This isn’t really a book about cooking. Recipes, however, are included.
Read an excerpt:
She sat down at the end of the blue denim sofa, leaving me to choose how close I should sit next to her. Still feeling unsure of myself, I sat neither right next to her nor at the opposite end of the sofa, but exactly in between, which put me in an uncomfortable spot at the break between two cushions.
“You want me to kick your ass at Need for Speed?” challenged Emily, her eyebrows raised and her mouth curved in amusement. While the room décor hadn’t been updated, they had definitely invested in the electronics. There was a large flat-screen TV and an XBOX 360. And Emily knew how to play. Despite my best efforts, she did, in fact, kick my ass. And well, it was hot. It didn’t help that I kept getting distracted by watching her play. I loved the way she stared intently at the screen, pursing her lips and scrunching her eyebrows together. The more intensely she played, the further she slid forward until her ass balanced on the very edge of the couch. Her torso arched forward, revealing a gap of creamy skin on her lower back. She thrust her chest forward as she gripped the game device, accentuating the small, round curve of her breasts. I was glad that she was so focused on the game, and that I didn’t have to face her directly, seeing as I was uncomfortably erect in my jeans.
This is a young adult book that explores those mysterious feelings of first love and lust. Hormones are raging during the teenage years. Those boys and girls who were just filled with cooties are suddenly causing funny feelings and physical reactions. Playing around has a whole new meaning. Puppy love comes on strong and can sometimes turn into something much stronger and feel very real.
I did think of Judy Blume's book Forever, which we devoured time and time again when I was a middle grader and high schooler (even before reading the author's comments). That was my generation's book about first love. I felt like the characters in this book seemed younger than they were supposed to be, more like 14 or 15, instead of 17. The intimate scenes are definitely much more explicit than Judy Blume ever was. Because I felt like the characters seemed younger, sometimes I felt a little uncomfortable reading about their intimacy. I wonder if it is because I have been reading more new adult lately, and any young adult books haven't had as much of the sex piece in them?
The curiosity of uncharted territory is definitely captured, as well as the conversations had between the friends following every little step along the way. The confusion of the parents, their frustration, concern, and sadness at watching their kids grow up, while also embracing their independence, is also captured. I think it is a much more accurate portrayal of what really happens during those awkward moments of exploration, rather than an instant lesson of all of the bad things that can come of having sex, or a fairytale romance that fits into a usual formula.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
It was Back to School Night, and my parents were headed to the High School. I looked up from my book long enough to describe all my teachers. For example: “My science teacher will be wearing black chinos pulled waaay too high and a short-sleeved button-down with pens in the pocket. He has Mr. McGoo glasses and a three-strand comb-over. He’s totally weird.”
My parents returned to tell me a) I was grounded until I brought my grades up, and b) I had an uncanny ability to describe people. The teenage me, stressed out from deciding who I was and what I was supposed to do, snapped, “Yeah? Well, what job does that get me?!”
My mother gazed at me calmly. “You could be a writer. But for now, you’re grounded.”
I have never forgotten that moment. I took creative writing classes in college and continued to read a lot, but it wasn’t until I had children of my own that the idea for “The Recipe” came to me. My girls are avid readers, and I spent a lot of time hanging out in the youth room at the public library. I read a ton of current YA novels, and reread books from my teenage years. I began to look for contemporary stories about early sexual experiences that were as honest and non-judgmental as Judy Blume’s Forever. I didn’t find any, but I did find a dangerous mixed message.
On the one hand, overwhelming, irresistible (even paranormal) passion is presented as the ideal romantic experience. That unrealistic expectation, along with all the other unrealistic sexual images they find in books, movies, cable tv, and the internet, is bound to result disappointment in the real thing.
On the other hand, sexually active teen characters in books are invariably punished with pregnancy, violence, humiliation, heartbreak, or a sexually transmitted disease so virulent that it will not even let you die. Yes. If our teens give in to their normal, healthy impulses, they will surely become vampires.
So I decided to write a book about first love and “the first time” that would offer my daughters one story that is a little closer to the truth–things are bound to be less than perfect, and that’s not the end of the world (or the beginning of life after death, no matter what the French call it.) The process was difficult, rewarding, and a lot of fun, and there’s a good chance my daughters will never read it, because who wants to read a book about sex that your mother wrote. Gross.
I’m currently working on my second novel, and yeah, there will be more teens having sex in that one too.
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