by Alison Jackson
Henry Holt, 2010. 215 pgs. Fiction.
Evie's father writes a syndicated column about food--"Carson's Cuisine"--and has his own television show. Evie is learning to cook because she enjoys cooking, and because she wants to please her father who has left her and her mother to marry Angie, his younger and prettier assistant. Evie is a resilient child, wise beyond her thirteen years, and though she wants her family to be like it was before, she does manage to learn to like her stepmother, to get used to not having her dog Mousse around, and to get used to the idea that her mother might want to date. It helps that she meets a boy in her cooking class whom she comes to like very much, and that cranky Mrs. Hamilton next door turns out to be more dimensional and sympathetic than she first supposed. Evie has to deal with a lot in these pages: divorce, birth (of twins to her father and his new wife), the death of her neighbor's beloved pet, and endlessly falling souffles.
Evie has her down moments, but on the whole handles her life's changes with wisdom and equanimity. Though Jackson's intent seems to be to put the best face on divorce and to show that children are resilient enough to be happy in painful circumstances, things certainly seem to work out easier for Evie than for most real-life children in that position. And yet, if this gentle, cheerful book will help any of those kids, power to it! Recipes included.