Title: Stay Sweet
Author: Soibhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
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…Goodreads
Ok, so in this book we’re following Amelia, a girl who just graduated high school and works at an ice cream shop in her small town. She and her best friend Cate are looking forward to working there and just having a good time their last summer before college. Then the owner dies and everything changes when the grandnephew takes over as boss and has a bunch of new ideas.
I love the basic plot idea. It’s unique and has some key factors that I love in contemporary romances: 1- small town vibes, 2- summer vibes, 3- not in high school lol. We also learn more about the previous owner and her life throughout the book which I really enjoyed.
This is a contemporary romance so obviously, there is a romance. Duh. Something that I really hate, in any book, is insta-love. Oooooh it really gets me going. In a bad way. However! This book had none of that! This was a slow burn romance and I think that it was one of the best parts of the book. You know it’s going to happen. They, Amelia and Grady, are attracted to each other from the moment they see each other, but Amelia really fights against that and that makes it so much sweeter when they do get together.
On the flip side, there was something that genuinely made me angry at some points throughout the story. Amelia is such a doormat. This isn’t even me being an asshole about it either. It’s essentially her whole personality to let people walk all over her and not stand up for herself. Even when it came to things that she really cared about!!! Or relationships!!! She was such a doormat that it made me want to scream. Ice cream more like I want to scream. Also, her best friend was such a bitch to her sometimes that I wondered if the author knew what a real friendship looked like. Obviously, that was the major conflict but the core character development wasn’t until essentially the very end. At least there was character development in that regard though. My rating would have been a 2 if there hadn’t been any.
Back to something I enjoyed again. Amelia finds a passion in life during this book, and the book is good at empowering women to pursue their interests – especially in business. It also covers a bit of what it’s like for many women in the workplace, with men degrading their worth and abilities as a serious business partner. This doesn’t come from the love interest though, don’t worry, he’s great. As one of my degrees is in international business, I liked that there was a focus on entrepreneurial women. It felt like the author was saying hey, guess what, women are super capable at doing this shit too, don’t doubt yourself and don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do it, because if you really want to, you can do anything. Which I love.
Something about the writing – I listened to this book on audiobook so it was harder for me to pick up on the writing abilities of the author as so much has to do with the abilities of the narrator. However, sometimes the writing felt a bit stilted. It wasn’t very descriptive, I usually like descriptive writing, and it tended to focus a lot on Amelia’s thoughts. While that’s not a deal breaker for me, it’s something I prefer to have less of in books as it can lead to awkward storytelling. Also, it can be lazy because then the author is choosing to tell us something rather than showing us something.
Ok, let’s end on a positive. I really loved the setting. If you’re into that sort of vibe, the small-town summer romance vibe, then you’ll probably like this book. It’s a super light and quick read. As I said I listened to it on audiobook but I finished it in a day. If you wanna feel like going to Cape Cod on a summer road trip, driving along in a convertible, getting ice cream from a local shop, and chilling on the beach this is the book for you. Also I’d say if you like Love & Gelato or Love & Luck, both by Jenna Evans Welch, you’d most likely like this book as well.
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