Book Review: Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray

Caramel Hearts
Author: E.R. Murray 
Publisher: Alma Books
Pages: 340 pages
R.R.P: $19.99

A warm hearted novel about baking cakes, making mistakes, and finding your way home.

Liv Bloom's life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out in the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum's shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum's handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self discovery and reconciliation- but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.

Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming of age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.

My review
Thoughts on the book: 
Caramel Hearts tells the story of fourteen year old Liv Bloom who seems to have the worst life imaginable. Her dad left when she was young, her mother is an alcoholic and is currently in rehab, which means her sister (who had finally left town and was at university trying to make something of herself) has had to come back to look after Liv so that she doesn't go into foster care. But as much as she loves her sister, she doesn't want her as her mother figure and so they butt heads, but if you thought Liv's life was bad now, it's about to get a whole lot worse. After one bad mistake, which involves someone who was actually really nice and tried to help Liv out when she needed it, Liv looses her best friend and the boy she was starting to have a relationship with, becomes the target for the town bully and her gang and her mum comes home from re-had. All Liv wants to do is get away, but is the grass always greener on the other side?

I was contacted by Adam Kirkman at Bloomsbury to see if I was interested in reviewing a book just about to be released here in Australia and if I wanted to I could also interview the author. That book was Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray. I haven't heard much about it but I liked the sound of it so like any blogger I of course accepted with great excitement. Not long after replying the author personally contacted me and I can't tell you how thrilling that was for me to receive that first email and the subsequent ones we exchanged. What was one of the most amazing parts of this exchange was E.R. Murray saying that she had been reading my blog. So you can imagine my delight when a parcel turned up and insight was a neatly wrapped up book (as the picture shows below). I couldn't wait to delve into the book.
With its many recipes that are found throughout the book, which I can't wait to try, and the many issues that a lot of teenagers will be able to identify with, I loved Caramel Hearts. From the first couple of chapters you really feel for the main character, Liv and what a tough life she has been dealt. As we dive further and further into the book and learn more about her world you really start to sympathise with her and understand why she does the things that she does. It doesn't mean that what she does it necessarily right, but you know why she has done it. I loved the inclusion of the recipes too. I think it is a fantastic way to break up the strong storylines that we are faced with. I suggest everyone go to your local bookstore or go online and add this book to your TBR pile, you won't be disappointed. Also try some of the recipes in the book too. I can't wait to try the namesake of the book, Caramel Hearts.

Rating: 5/5