Friday, March 11, 2022

Review: Where There's a Whisk

Peyton Sinclaire can't quite believe that she is a competitor on the TV show Top Teen Chef. The winner will get a full ride to any American Culinary Institute and for Peyton, it would mean the chance to leave her family troubles and small town life behind. The story starts right in the midst of the action, as Peyton walks on set for the first time and the camera crew captures her reaction to the beautiful appliances and fully-stocked pantry. They also record her walking right into the swinging doors that lead to set. 

We all know that reality shows are not all that real. Peyton and her fellow competitors know that too, but they are trying to impress the judges, impress the audience, and maybe even make a friend or two along the way. The show begins with eight competitors and each one has a type--one is a vegan surfer boy, another is an Italian teen from New Jersey, and there is even a girl whose family is cooking royalty. While it might seem a bit obnoxious to have such obvious types, it certainly rings true for a reality show where each contestant would be encouraged to play along with a specific narrative. 

Sarah Schmitt does a great job of writing characters who want to be authentic, but also want to win a competition where perception is at least as important as your plating skills. Their frustration is palpable when they are required to act in ways that aren't natural to them, and Peyton is the most devastated of all when she discovers the show will be portraying her as the "rags to riches" girl whose father is in jail. 

Sometimes you need to read a book that my dad would call "fluffy;" the stakes are relatively low and you know that everyone will learn something and end up with a somewhat happy ending. This story is fun, moves quickly, and the reader truly feels that they are on set alongside the teens, scrambling to finish each challenge on time. If you love binging The Great British Baking Show or trying to perfect your pie recipe on the weekends, Where There's a Whisk is the perfect book for you. 

Where There's a Whisk
By Sarah J. Schmitt
Running Press Kids October 2021
400 pages
Read via Netgalley 


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