You can add Stir It Up to the burgeoning category of “food literature,” for lack of a better term. Only here, the audience is much younger than that 20-something blog memoir fan. Which is why it works.
Food novels, it seem, are much easier to pull off when the average age of your audience hovers around the 11-years-old and counting mark. That author Ramin Ganeshram is a seasoned food journalist probably has something to do with it.
Stir It Up also has a few recipes tossed into the mix — a nice touch for the tween set. Chapter four, “Possibilities,” ends with a recipe for “easy” curry chicken; a coconut sweet bread recipe wraps up the chapter titled “Ambition” (Ganeshram specializes in the cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago).
The book revolves around Anjali Krishnan, a 13-year-old girl whose parents own a roti shop in Queens.
The conflict arises when Krishnan gets a chance to compete in a Food Network reality TV cooking show (ugh, of course the Food Network makes an appearance). Her parents, quite wisely we would be inclined to argue — are not as keen on the idea as their daughter. Of course, as this is a book aimed at the young and impressionable set, the message is the opposite: The reality TV show quest is really about a little girl facing roadblocks and following dreams. And so the protagonist “puts her heart and soul into making her dream come true,” according to the book jacket flap.
Spoiler alert (should you have a niece or nephew who is peering over your shoulder): Krishnan loses the Food Network show, but in that perseverance vein, her dream to become a chef has a happy ending. On her first day of high school, she gets to enroll in extracurricular culinary classes.
Yeah, had we been able to take a class on bouillabaisse in high school, we'd have deemed it a happy ending, too.