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100 Days of Cake

Review

100 Days of Cake

“Maybe there is some combination of sugar, eggs, and flour that can make me care about school dances and four-hundred-meter relay times and college applications.”

High school senior Molly Byrne hopes that medication, therapy, or even her mom’s cakes can cure her depression. From “Cherry Berry Bundt Cake” to “Mocha Madness Cake,” each inviting chapter of Shari Goldhagen’s 100 DAYS OF CAKE unveils a new day of sweetness and struggle for a teen battling a mental illness. Goldhagen mixes hope, humor and heartfelt moments in a recipe for a read you can’t resist.

Coral Cove, a small town in central Florida, sets the scene for the novel, but Goldhagen’s theme of high school pressure resonates in towns across America. Coral Cove High has let out for the summer, though students continue to buzz about SAT’s, college applications and summer reading lists --- well, except for Molly. Unable to plan for the future, the 17-year-old lives in the present. And sometimes that proves difficult.

“Shari Goldhagen gives readers a summer story of perseverance and purpose. 100 DAYS OF CAKE provides an uplifting and compassionate look at overcoming teenage depression.”

As the main character shares her thoughts and feelings, teen readers will experience and learn about the depths of depression. One morning Molly explains, “It’s one of those days when the world feels like this expansive ocean and I’ll drown if I get off the life raft of my bed.” However, when she does get out of bed, colorful supporting characters come to her rescue. Molly’s sweet, stylish single mom, who has turned her hairdressing talents into a successful salon called “Dye Another Day,” hopes to “spread happiness with desserts.” Re-creating a blog she admires, Lisa Byrne sets out to bake a different cake each day for 100 days. Lisa is the mom every teenage girl needs in a crisis and I looked forward to the new flavor of each chapter!

Molly’s crisis began at a divisionals swim meet one year ago when she ran away and disqualified her team. Recovering from her “infamous freakout,” she begins therapy with Dr. Brooks. Molly’s sessions with the immature, Ivy League psychologist lead to a soap opera more than self-help. Nevertheless, her personal relationship with Dr. B sparks an excitement within Molly as well as the story.

True summer romance awaits the troubled teen at FishTopia, where Molly finds a connection with her cute coworker Alex McDermott (“sweet McD”). The high school seniors bond over take-out lo mein and reruns of “Golden Girls” when there are no customers in the store. At 16, I have never seen an episode of “Golden Girls,” so I cannot relate to its “universal language” but the old sitcom soon becomes a constant comfort in Molly’s life.

When the owner of FishTopia decides to sell his failing saltwater fish and supply business, Molly begins a crusade to save the store. As she works passionately to rescue FishTopia, she also rescues herself. I admired Molly’s will to fight for herself as well as what is important to her. Author Shari Goldhagen gives young readers a summer story of perseverance and purpose. 100 DAYS OF CAKE provides an uplifting and compassionate look at overcoming teenage depression.

Reviewed by Juliette G., Teen Board Member on May 23, 2016

100 Days of Cake
by Shari Goldhagen