Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Story: Precocious twelve year old Flavia de Luce of Buckshaw is the youngest of three girls in 1950. She is a self taught chemist and uses her multiple talents to solve the mysterious death of a stranger in the family cucumber patch. Harriet the Spy meets Sherlock Holmes series.
What Worked: The book was really well written, with some artful passages, well rounded characters, great visual imagery and metaphors. The book kept me interested from the very first sentence “It was as black in the closet as old blood.”
What Needed Work: I took Chemistry in High school and perhaps a course in college, but I had to go back and re-read passages regarding the chemistry components of the book. Chemistry is how Flavia solves her murders so understanding the vocabulary, outcomes and scientific backgrounds are pertinent. I wouldn’t say that the novel needs to work on this, but perhaps it was the one thing that I really had to focus on.
Overall: I admit, I often judge a book by it’s cover and something about this one drew me in. Maybe the dead “Edgar Allen Poe” like snipe, maybe the creamy green; I like it all. I’m also a sucker for stories that have strong girls/women, and if they’ve lost their mother as a child; hook, line, and sinker. I didn’t know that Flavia lost her mother as a baby before getting into the story, but I was enthralled once it was revealed. I saw a lot of myself in Flavia as a child, and could relate to all of her glorious orneriness. I wish I had discovered a read like this when I was younger, even though she is a fictional character, she is still inspirational. This book is #1 of a series, and I plan to read them all.
If you wanna read: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
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