I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
on April 24, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 368 •Format: Hardcover •Source: YALLWest
Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…
*Thanks so much to the publisher for providing a giveaway copy at YALLWEST!*
So Stay Sweet and I have been on a bit of a journey. I came across it at the end of 2017 when I was doing a post on the top 2018 books I was excited for, and EVERYTHING about it called to me. Ice Cream? Check. Female run business? Check. Absolutely adorable cover? Check. I then started seeing some bloggers receiving promotional packages with the book and they were utterly amazing and adorable, and I was basically the heart eyes emoji every time I came across a picture of the book featured on a blog or Instagram post. So you can imagine my absolutely ecstatic excitement when I saw Riveted tweet during YallWEST that they had a special surprise at their booth for the first three people who went to their booth and said the secret password, “Home Sweet Home.” I was the last one to whisper it, and received not only the cutest gift bag (Meade Creamery themed, of course) but a finished copy of Stay Sweet. There may have been literal shrieking involved.
Now that I’ve devoured Stay Sweet (pun intended) and fully understand the significance of the secret password, I can fully say that is met almost every expectation I had. I am first and foremost a HUGE dessert person, and I’ve never met a scoop of ice cream I didn’t like. Getting to spend a summer with the Meade Creamery girls and watching them scoop handmade, simple yet irresistible ice cream flavors was like my dream book. And getting to learn about what went into the ice cream process? Maybe I’m strange but I found it SO compelling. I would have given anything to have been a Meade Creamery girl back in high school!
Aside from this book being every ice cream and pastel lover’s dream, there was actually a lot of depth to the story. The history behind the stand was fascinating, with Molly Meade, the founder, starting it during WWII as a distraction from her fiancé being overseas fighting the Axis powers and a way to also generate income for her family. Seeing her start a business from the ground up in the war time economy, and also seeing her successfully keep it going after the war was so empowering, and I loved that it was female run and operated for the 6+ decades it had been open! So much female empowerment and entrepreneurship happened in this story which was 100% a message I love to see.
It was also my first time interacting with Siobhan Vivian’s writing, and I have to say I was quite impressed. It was told from a third person perspective which I find to be rarer in YA contemporary novels, and had almost a story like quality to it, like someone was telling me a tale rather than me reading it. It was almost dream like in a way? I loved Amelia and identified with her so much, from her desire to always do the right and responsible thing to her innate tendency to care (and sometimes stress) about things rather than just being able to brush them off. I feel like often times these are traits that are seen as negative or something a protagonist needs to overcome, so it was refreshing to see her use these elements of her personality to evoke change and be her own person. There were a lot of friendship feels while I was reading, and while there were times Cate REALLY irritated me (Amelia’s blonde BFF who can be found on the back of the cover), I appreciated that their relationship was tested in a real way.
The one thing I could have lived without in this novel was the romance. I feel like it really didn’t need it and I would have loved to see the story be more about the ice cream and the business and Amelia finding her place in the company without the romantic build up. It’s not the main focus of the story so it was easy enough to tune out (it really felt like it was honestly there for plot convenience to cause trouble between Amelia and the other girls), but I easily could have done without it. Also, while I loved the diary entries from Molly that helped flesh out the founding story of Meade Creamery, I also found the text to be super tiny and hard to read in her handwriting (but that could also just be me getting old! RIP my youthful eyes).
Overall: I ADORED Stay Sweet and definitely always felt the urge to indulge in a scoop while reading because it made me feel like I was right there in the stand with the Meade Creamery girls. I loved the focus on a female founded and run company and also the college vibes as it was set during the summer before the protagonist heads to college. Someone please make the flavor Home Sweet Home a real thing one day!