Sunday, April 10, 2011

God Is In The Pancakes by Robin Epstein


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. 

16 comments:

  1. My library has this book! From your review it sounds fantastic! I'll have to check it out from them soon! Fantastic review!

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  2. Great review! I think i might have to buy this book, it looks very interesting :)

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  3. I love the title of the book and I love the fact that it involves family dynamics - not many YA books do that. Nomes, you managed to add another book to my TBR! :)

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  4. I remember really wanting to read this book: one because the author is pretty cool, two the title and cover are shareworthy, and three I've heard only good things about it.

    Thanks so much for the review! I'll have to consider buying this one in the future, because if you liked it I'm sure to love it as a fellow contemporary-YA girl. :)

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  5. I haven't heard of this title at all. But I kind of get the feeling that 'God Is In The Pancakes' will leave me a bit sad and happy, kinda like 'Good Oil'.

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  6. Brilliant review Nomes! I am totally getting this. Can't wait to read it :)

    Also, Did your blog design change again? I like :)
    x

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  7. Wow. Amazing review Nomes! Immediatly adding this to my wish list, since you have great taste and you clearly adored it :)

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  8. I love the title. This looks very interesting! I like books that explore faith, just like the Sara Zarr novel you mentioned. :) I'll watch out for this one. :)

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  9. Oh, I loved this book--and your review is perfect. :)

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  10. I am so with you on the subtle and quiet books that have like, amazing awesomeness under the surface. Great family dynamics and a MC you can really connect with? Yes, definitely sounds like my cup of tea. Great review, this has jumped onto my wishlist!

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  11. I'm going to try to get this in my next shopping trip!

    Thanks so much for sharing, it sounds like a terrific book

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  12. "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"

    Stunning review! I'm so glad I bought this one, now I just have to bump it up the TBR pile.

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  13. I just love this review. It makes me want to buy this book immediately.

    Although I have to say I am not a huge fan of the cover. I wonder what they will do with the paperback cover?

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  14. Once again you have me desperately wanting yet another book. I am quite interested in the euthanasia aspect of the book, something that I use to struggle with when I was a nurse. The whole sister aspect too has me intrigued as it sounds very similar to the relationship I had with my sister. Fantastic review.

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  15. Rock in your gut? Nomes, you just gave me goosebumps and a lump in my throat!

    Thank you SO much for your thoughtful and amazing review. Your words made me giddy. Couldn't be more thrilled that you liked the book and I so appreciate your turning your readers on to it. (Hope they like it, too!)

    Lady, YOU rock!
    xoxo
    Robin

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Thanks for the commenty love <3