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Stay Sweet

Review

Stay Sweet

In 1944, 17-year-old Molly Meade opened Meade Creamery, an all-women staffed homemade ice cream stand to keep spirits high during World War II. The ice cream is as renowned as the tale of how it came to be: two young sweethearts ripped apart by the war, a young girl trying to keep her friends and herself hopeful and happy, only to end in heartbreaking tragedy. Residents and tourists alike flock to Sand Lakes’ Meade Creamery every summer, waiting in a never-ending line just for a scoop of one of the four specially made flavors.

Scooping cones at Meade Creamery is more than just a job, it’s an honor to be hired and to join the exclusive sisterhood. Head Girl Amelia Van Hagen has worked at Meade Creamery since the summer before high school. It is where she met her best friend Cate, where she learned about the perils of high school and where she learned how to run in wedges. Amelia loves the stand with everything she has. She is looking forward to her last summer working there with Cate, but her plans are immediately set aside when she finds Molly Meade dead in the stand on her very first day. Amelia and the rest of the girls believe that the stand is over, as Molly had no next of kin --- or so they and everyone else thought.

"Reading STAY SWEET was like eating an ice cream cone; a delightful treat that you savor and enjoy until the end, but that always seems to be gone too soon, leaving you wanting more."

In comes Molly’s handsome, business savvy 19-year-old grandnephew, Grady. Grady has big ideas for the stand --- ideas that break many long-standing traditions. Amelia wants the stand to survive and thrive, but at what cost? Will it even matter what she or Grady wants to do if they can’t figure out how to make the ice cream? STAY SWEET tells the story of two girls at two different times in the world, just trying to figure out what they need to do to make themselves happy; as well as examines the more unconventional appearances of what strength and courage look like.

I’ve been looking forward to STAY SWEET for close to two years (before it was even called STAY SWEET!)  and can happily say that the wait was more than worth it! Siobhan Vivian never disappoints, always nailing the teenage voice. Her stories and cast of characters are tangible; the reader will find themselves easily dragged into the Creamery and farmhouse. Throughout the book, it felt as if I were alongside the characters; I could perfectly envision, smell and taste every single thing Siobhan put down (which was especially delightful in this case!).

Reading STAY SWEET was like eating an ice cream cone; a delightful treat that you savor and enjoy until the end, but that always seems to be gone too soon, leaving you wanting more. I found myself flying through this book, never wanting to put it down. It was equally compelling and laugh-out-loud-funny.

Not only is the book fun, it also gives readers an inside look at the complexities of ice cream and running a business. Siobhan clearly did her research, not on just the scientific aspects, but on the social ones as well. Who thought reading about how ice cream is made could be so enjoyable! I also just have to mention how refreshing it is to see characters in YA books not only have a job, but to be in charge and handle that role in a realistic manner.

Sugary sweet, but with just enough conflict to keep the cavities away, Vivian’s book, like most of her prior works, is painstakingly real. From the lack of confidence and encouragement, to at times unbearable characters, Siobhan doesn’t shy away from showing the more unfortunate parts of life, especially that of a teenager’s. But that only makes the end result all the more enjoyable. Seeing these characters grow and change is among the most pleasing things about the book. If a cute summer read about relationships and ice cream isn’t enough to sell you, STAY SWEET is worth the read just solely for the character development.

The only thing I found myself not loving about STAY SWEET was the romance. It felt a bit rushed and because of that, it made it feel like the characters had little to no romantic chemistry. It had all the right elements, it just could’ve used a bit more time to churn so it could truly become the crème de la crème. This in no way takes away from the story, though, as this relationship was not the focal point of the book.

STAY SWEET will make readers nostalgic, whether it’s for a time long before they were born, or just a few summers ago. Siobhan Vivian’s novel transcends time by featuring perennial struggles and relatable experiences that will let all readers feel a sense of solidarity with the characters and the story.

STAY SWEET is the pinnacle of a summer read. It’s cute, entertaining and quick. I can already see myself re-reading Siobhan’s book multiple times over the next few months…with many accompanying trips to my local ice cream stand! If you’re looking for a contemporary with substance, STAY SWEET will not disappoint. Make sure to have a playlist of great oldies and plenty of your favorite ice cream on hand when reading Vivian’s latest novel of fun, friendship, empowerment and sweet treats.

Reviewed by Olivia W., Teen Board Member on May 10, 2018

Stay Sweet
by Siobhan Vivian

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Young Adult 13+
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1481452320
  • ISBN-13: 9781481452328