Author: Stewart Lewis
Release date: June 11, 2013
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Olivia is a teen chef who was adopted. She loves her two dads, and actually gets to cook in her dad’s restaurant, Food. The summer before her senior year in high school she becomes curious about who her mother is and The Secret Ingredient follows Olivia as she gets a job at a casting agency, worries about her family’s financial issues, meets a psychic, and most of all finds the “something missing” in her mostly happy life.
Olivia is a great main character. She is a quiet, serious teenager who loves her family and her friend Lola. I really enjoyed following her on this adventure which starts with a psychic’s predictions about the events that will unfold this summer before her senior year of high school. I love that she was skeptical at first but then little pieces of the predictions begin to appear, like Hank (the dog she walks) helping her find a cookbook with it’s own story.
Speaking of that cookbook, I love how the characters revealed in the margins of the cookbook have their own story and eventually become a part of Olivia’s story. It is a book of wisdom, really, Rose’s wisdom fleshed out by Olivia :)
Each character in this story is unique in a realistic way. Stewart weaves these characters together masterfully. As I said, I really like Olivia, but I also liked Jeremy, Olivia’s older brother who dreams of a record deal; Bell and Enrique, her Dads; Lola, her energetic, British best friend; Hank, the dog; Theo, the love interest; and, of course, the psychic. There are several other side characters who just fill in the pieces of the story, and all I can say is that there isn’t one in the whole bunch who doesn’t fit perfectly!
For me this is a story of searching and finding...finding things you may have been looking for AND finding things you only realize you needed once they’ve landed at your feet. This story left me feeling fulfilled and happy...which is all I could ask for.