Author: Jessica Barksdale Inclán
This was such a wonderfully genuine book. It was easy to identify with the protagonist, who had a witty, charming voice and felt realistic. Lovers of baked goods and feel-good stories will enjoy.
Book Description (from GoodReads):
Rebecca Muchmore finds herself in graduate school, staring at her professor, wondering what she is doing with her life. A degree in business is not what she wants but what her mother and father want for her. What she wants is to bake. All her life, baking is what has satisfied her. But is baking enough? Once she quits graduate school and starts her own company, Becca finds herself meeting people who spur her to change, one being the very attractive man in the office, another the witch of the office who scares her. With the help of her neighbor Sal, she goes into her new life and finds much more than she bargained for.Review:
I love the San Francisco Bay Area (but of course, being a native of the region). I love to bake. I dig laid-back, genuine people. Since this book had all of these things in spades, I also loved this book. ^_^ Becca's Best was a supremely charming book, with the warm fuzzies of chick-lit, but none of its more silly aspects.
For one, the protagonist Becca Muchmore was not a disty TSTL heroine with some hilariously damnable weakness (like being a shopaholic, workaholic, gossip-monger, etc.). No offense to the Kinsella-esque stuff out there (which I also dig, to be fair), but it was refreshing to romp with Becca's voice, which is free of endless witticisms and perfectly snappy remarks. She's not a parody or caricature, either. On more than one occasion I thought, "she reminds me of...me!" She felt...normal (whatever that means). Identifiable.
That said, near the beginning of the story I didn't quite understand why characters were written to have certain reactions and behaviors: one such instance involved Becca's taking great, GREAT offense to the fact that she was mistaken for one of her clients (who shared physical characteristics but happened to be a very mean woman). Much later in my reading, however, I felt like I "got" what the author might have been doing. Characters that initially seem like caricatures are as such because that's how Becca sees them. And so many occurrences and details are representative of much more than their face value...and it's often related to Becca's overall growth.
Due to the nature of the protagonist's passion and fledgling business, there's a emphasis placed on the art and delights of baking. I absolutely loved how a different treat was discussed at the beginning of each chapter, and tied into the events or emotions of that particular section. It was a cute device, and had my mouth watering constantly.
Call me daft, but I didn't get a sense of a "forgone conclusion" as I was reading the book. Sure, a book of this sort typically has a certain type of resolution (talking about the romantic HEA, here), but I felt like the story could likely have ended in any number of believable, understandable ways. This might have been due a greater focus on the process of growing and living over the "goal" of a romantic pairing. I felt like I was following Becca as she was taking a chance living her life, just as unsure of the future as she was.
Thank the stars for Ms. Inclan's inclusion of RECIPES(!!!) at the tail end of the book. A quick read-through (and a video) showed me that they aren't complicated. It seems as though some of the recipes are from the author's own family recipes...and you know that if something is good enough to be passed down through generations, it's good enough to attempt making. ^_^
Becca's non-existence (in the real world) notwithstanding, I really wanted the best for her and hoped she would find herself, regardless of whether that included a guy. Having that feeling for a character is great, ain't it?
Rating: 4 of 5 stars