Release date: May 17, 2016
There are only three things that can get seventeen-year-old Molly Byrne out of bed these days: her job at FishTopia, the promise of endless episodes of Golden Girls, and some delicious lo mien. You see, for the past two years, Molly’s been struggling with something more than your usual teenage angst. Her shrink, Dr. Brooks isn’t helping much, and neither is her mom who is convinced that baking the perfect cake will cure Molly of her depression—as if cake can magically make her rejoin the swim team, get along with her promiscuous sister, or care about the SATs.
Um, no. Never going to happen.
But Molly plays along, stomaching her mother’s failed culinary experiments, because, whatever—as long as it makes someone happy, right? Besides, as far as Molly’s concerned, hanging out with Alex at the rundown exotic fish store makes life tolerable enough. Even if he does ask her out every…single…day. But—sarcastic drum roll, please—nothing can stay the same forever. When Molly finds out FishTopia is turning into a bleak country diner, her whole life seems to fall apart at once. Soon she has to figure out what—if anything—is worth fighting for.
For a book about a depressed girl, 100 Days of Cake is not actually gloomy, and instead consists of adorable moments among the difficult ones. Molly is hovering through her life, unsure of future and basically wanting things to stay the same. She doesn’t want the extra burden of expectations or the realization that she is responsible for someone’s happiness. Despite the things she does want to do, there are instances where she would rather just lie down in her room and let the world go by – I found this very relatable in the context of her situation. This is a moment in her life that all her peers are expected to build their futures, and she doesn’t feel motivated enough.
When one thing after another starts changing, like the place she is working at shutting down, her friend Alex now possibly no longer interested in her, her shrink not really being helpful with her therapy, she feels at a loss. The things she tries to do, like caring for a hermit crab or saving Fishtopia show that she feels motivated about some things. But things don’t always work out and she then feels worse after it. And then comes the final nail in her coffin when she learns about her father. Eventually, I guess it takes a change of pace for her to get comfortable and move ahead. Not that there weren’t problematic things with the ending (that doctor should have been fired) and some throughout the book (the blatant slut-shaming of young teens), but this book was overall entertaining enough. 3.5 stars.
Received a free galley from Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, via Netgalley, for review purposes.