Monday, May 14, 2018

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

Title: Stay Sweet
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 24, 2018
Pages: 368
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from
A summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Run by all girls, Meade's Creamery ice cream stand is open from the first day of June to the last day of August at Sand Lake. Meade's Creamery opened up in 1945 by Molly Meade, the mastermind of the delicious homemade ice cream,  and is a favorite with the locals and visitors all summer long.

Amelia Van Hagen becomes Head Girl after she graduates her senior year of high school. She has been working at Meade's Creamery every summer since four years ago. All the girls wear strawberry pink polo shirts and the Head Girl is granted a gold flower pin. This is going to be the best last summer working at Meade's Creamery until one morning, Amelia stumbles upon the death of Molly. Everyone thought Molly had no family around to continue the business but Grady, Molly's great-nephew, takes over but with many new changes to be implemented.

In Stay Sweet, Amelia takes charge for the most part but she is very much a goody two shoe and likes to do everything perfectly. She doesn't like getting in trouble and likes to follow the rules. Even keeping secrets is hard for her. Amelia's friend Cate, who is also a Meade Creamery girl, is usually there for Amelia but this summer has been a rocky one. Amelia and Cate have a falling out in the book which causes major tension in their friendship. Unfortunately, the tension is due to boundaries involving a guy and also having control of Meade's Creamery as Head Girl.

I don't want to spoil the ending but Amelia finds out what she loves to do and she makes her dreams happen even though the journey is bumpy. Working at the Meade's Creamery isn't about the ice cream. It's about the experience and the friends you will meet. It's about the bonding and what you get out of the summer working there. The memories that are made will last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, the romance in the novel wasn't up to par compared to other contemporaries. It felt too rushed and I didn't feel the chemistry. There was one point where both parties though they loved each other but they hardly knew each other. Also, I wish there was more character growth with Cate. She had so much potential to blossom and to mature. It seems like Amelia was the only one who had significant character growth. She learned what the consequences are after she says certain things or does certain things. She learned from her mistakes. Amelia also finds out her calling. Also, there was very little background information about the other girls in the novel. I was hoping for more interaction with Amelia's parents. Grady also seemed so consumed with pleasing his father and doing well at Truman. I wish Grady brought more to the table. He took all of the credit and didn't vouch for Amelia's hard work. And when Grady promoted Cate trying to fix a friendship, it was a hard hit for Amelia.

There were a couple of things that I was curious about regarding running a business. Home Sweet Home is one of the flavors Molly Meade makes for her ice cream stand. However, no one knows what is in it. I found this sort of unrealistic because of the laws in food service, food vendors are required to know the ingredients in their products due to food allergies. Also, I found it unrealistic that the girls are being paid $15.00 per hour and the Head Girl gets paid $17.00 per hour. As a high school student, you're glad to be making minimum wage. I believe in Massachusetts, the minimum now is $11.00. I used to start at $7.00 back in like 2005 when I first worked as an ice cream scooper and when I left the ice cream industry in 2011, I was making $10.85 in a supervisor role. Many jobs at $15.00 or $17.00 nowadays require some sort of experience or a degree.

I do applaud Siobhan Vivian for creating a book that screams summer! The novel is very nostalgic for me since it takes me back to when I was working at an ice cream shop for seven years. I have had experience working at a regional ice cream shop and also a national more well known ice cream shop. Each had their pros and cons but Meade's Creamery definitely brought make memories of the polo shirts, the long lines during the summer and the relationships you make with coworkers and the customers. Vivian also has a slight feminist take on the story. The girls are in charge of their lives from Molly all the way to Amelia. The guys don't hold the power.

Molly's diary entries can be scattered throughout the novel which allows history from the 1940's to be woven into a sort of mystery that Amelia is trying to solve. The hunt for the ice cream favor recipes can be tracked through diary entries to letters. I would love to see some of the recipes as an extra add on for the paperback version of Stay Sweet next year.

Stay Sweet is a quick read that readers can soak up on a nice summer day. It's light and fairly fast paced. Ice cream is very nostalgic in general. It allows the person to reminisce about their childhood.

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