Liv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.
Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.
Wowzers, where do I begin with this one?!? Well, firstly I would like to let you, my loyal readers know that I received a copy of this book from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does in no way affect my opinion of the book.
Caramel Hearts isn’t my typical read. To be honest, if I were to walk into a bookshop and seen this on the shelf, I probably wouldn’t give it a second glance. I usually read fantasy, dystopian, supernatural fiction. Not this. But I’m glad I did pick this book up, and glad I did give it a go, because it really resonated with me, and on a personal level too. This book deals with alcoholism and addiction. I’ve been in Liv’s shoes, in some of the scenarios she’s been in this book, and I can tell you, those are some scary shoes.
This book is E.R. Murray’s first YA book after releasing her debut book The Book of Learning (Book 1 in the Nine Lives Trilogy). Go ahead and click that link there to read my review of it. Compared to The Book of Learning, Caramel Hearts is very different, while being aimed for an older audience, I think it’s a must read for anyone who picks it up. i It gives an insight into what it’s like in the household of living with someone in the family who has an addiction problem, and I think it also gives the wonderful message, which I wish someone had told me at the time: You’re not alone.
What I loved the most about Caramel Hearts was that it comes with some baking recipes for what are probably the tastiest damned baked goods you’ve ever tasted. Personally, the peanut-butter fudge stood out to me the most. I love fudge, and can’t wait to make these–actually, I didn’t even realise how easy it is to make fudge–guess who’ll be making their own fudge from here on in! (That’s me, by the way, just in case you didn’t pick up on that). There’s also a recipe in the book for the book’s namesake: Caramel Hearts. After the peanut butter fudge, they’ll be next on my to bake list. Yummy!
If I were to pick a negative about this book, it wouldn’t be for the story or the writing–all of that was brilliant in my opinion. If I were to change anything it would be the cover. I’m treading on dangerous ground here, so I’m going to pick my words carefully, look at them, delete and re-type before hitting publish. What I’m trying to say is, this book should be read by everyone, boys and girls, men and women alike, and the cover to me just screams “this is a girls book!”, but don’t be fooled guys, this really is a brilliant book, regardless of the cover, don’t let it stop you from enjoying this book. I think anyone who has dealt with addiction, or knows someone dealing with addiction will benefit from the story being told in this novel.
Caramel Hearts is available now and I hope you’ll join me back here on MONDAY MAY 23RD where I have an exclusive interview with the author herself E.R. Murray! So make sure you tune in for that! Until then 😉