Being optimistic doesn’t come naturally to Grace Manning, but this year has been especially trying. Her dad’s run off, she’s had to take a job at a nursing home for extra cash, and things are getting weird with her best friend Eric. At least the job is okay, thanks to Mr. Sands, a resident with Lou Gehrig’s disease who keeps up with Grace’s sarcasm, teaches her how to cheat at poker, and even lets her give him a Mohawk.
And then one day, Mr. Sands asks Grace to help him die.
Surely he didn’t mean for her, a fifteen-year-old smartass, to take him seriously?
But he does, and she can’t bring herself to tell anyone—not even Eric, despite her growing feelings for him. Grace tries everything from praying for a miracle cure to stuffing herself with pancakes, but she knows she can’t run from this decision forever. And whatever choice she makes, Grace knows it’s a decision she’ll have to live with… (from author's site)
I am continually drawn to Young Adult fiction that feels like the truth> Books such as Kirsty Eagar's RAW BLUE and Laura Buzo's GOOD OIL and Sara Zarr's ONCE WAS LOST all resound with me so strongly because their stories are subtle yet complicated, quiet yet resounding and GOD IS IN THE PANCAKES is of the same calibre.
God is in the Pancakes is a stand out read for me due to Grace, such a spunky protagonist who I couldn't help but ache for. Reading about her felt like reading about my own teen self (and many choices and mistakes she makes completely make sense to me ~ haha, tongue twister of a sentence, moving along...)
I ADORE books that have a strong dynamic with family relationships ~ and this one just felt achingly real.
Grace's relationship with her sister was brilliant ~ the complications and love and fights, the petty full-blown arguments and the small gestures that show their bond were just perfection (made me nostalgic for those good old days when my sister and I were still at home together).
Likewise, the mother-daughter relationship is captured so well (the mother is not just there perfunctorily, but is a strong nuanced character of her own).
There's complications with Eric, Grace's best friend, where things are changing. And GOSH ~ it's not like it was a swooning* book so much as the kind of book that makes you feel like you have been punched in the gut because you can just feel the ache and awkwardness and attraction and complication of it all. It resonated strongly with me ~ the yearning and the fear and the confusion and the whole mess of it all. *Although Eric is definitely worthy of a swoon :D
One of the biggest parts of the book was Grace's relationship with the quirky and lovable Mr Sands, who asks Grace to help him die (!). And whoah ~ the whole euthanasia thing was head-spinny ~ done brilliantly, not preachy or easy or judgementally. It really got me thinking.
It is not Christian fiction (despite what the title may imply) but Grace wonders about faith and God and if there is anything in it or anyone out there who cares about her and the things she struggles with so much that she cannot bear to say aloud to anyone ~ and I found the exploration of this refreshing and honest
It was easy to forget that I was reading about characters in a story as I felt immersed in the lives of these people and really rooted for them. It is also worth mentioning that I found some of the plot-lines unpredictable and yet their resolutions rang true.
As for the prose ~ it's unsentimental and strong. It's succinct and will cause you to smile effortlessly (Robin Epstein is a former stand-up comedian and a sitcom writer). The humour in this book helps lift some of the intense subject matter.
Recommended: While on the surface, God is in the Pancakes may look like a quiet novel, the impact is anything but. I finished this novel with a rock the size of a fist in my gut and with tears glistening in my eyes. Ultimately, it's a triumphant and brave book ~ unique in plot ~ hopeful and funny and true.
God is in the Pancakes . com
Read the first chapter
God is in the Pancakes @ goodreads
Mate, how many times did I use the word ache? haha.