The last few books I’ve read have inspired me to watch some new televisions shows. After devouring this fantastic novel, Sweet Nothings by Janis Thomas, I’m very curious about the Food Network Show, Cake Boss – I seem to have picked up a new and profound respect for the art of cake decorating.
Ruby McMillian is 43 years old, owns the Muffin Top Bakery, and is an extremely talented cake maker. One Saturday morning her husband Walter announces that he’s leaving her for another woman. Following Walter’s announcement, her life dominos out of control with a failing business, a home in foreclosure, a cleaned out bank account and a husband proudly posting his extramarital shenanigans on Facebook. The local PTA moms have dumped her like a hot cake pan. Poor Ruby also has an ailing mother in a nursing home and two teenagers who are just as hurt, scared and confused as she is.
Ruby does have some great friends, though. The supporting characters are sweet morsels added to the story. I loved her best friend Izzy, the fiery Latina we all should have in our corner. Ruby’s staff, students and children are all unique, quirky and supportive in their own special way. With so many people behind her, Ruby starts to believe she’ll be okay.
Ruby has always based her life on the metaphor of recipe. She has goals and she follows steps in order to achieve them. Walter’s departure gives Ruby the opportunity to dream and take chances, both professionally and personally. I truly enjoyed watching Ruby gradually start to live her life. To enjoy her life. In her forties, she’s finally tampering with the recipe by making herself over, challenging herself and daring to discover what real passion feels like.
This was a beautifully written book. Thomas writes with raw honestly, tinged with a humorous self-deprecation, about the fears and uncertainties of starting over. Although Ruby seems to have every clichéd problem a woman in her forties can have, it’s all realistic and easily relatable. As Izzy would probably say, she’s one tough chica. I loved Ruby’s journey – it was empowering to read a story about a woman who didn’t dare to believe what she was capable of until life threw her enough curve balls. Even with such difficult topics, the story is filled with humor, making it an easy read. The author’s voice is genuine. I felt like Ruby was a friend whom I couldn’t leave, until I knew she’d be okay. I love how the author cleverly, and quite uniquely, identifies almost every character with some kind of dessert. It was surprisingly insightful! Most enjoyable were Ruby’s “stressipes,” spur-of-the-moment culinary concoctions that materialized in her head during high-stress moments. I learned much about cake decorating and I’m definitely going to start watching Cake Boss, which plays a pivotal role in the plot. I really recommend this book, but of course you must indulge is a sweet treat, as you get lost in Ruby’s delicious world.