Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hot Lunch by Alex Bradley

Molly is a loner. She likes to wear huge headphones over her brightly dyed blue hair to signal that she is not open to conversation (even though they aren’t actually plugged into anything), she does not like the majority of students at her private hippie run high school, and she most certainly does not want to be a part of any group project. Especially not with Cassie, queen of all things normal (no wonder Cassie is having a hard time fitting in). So when the inevitable happens and she’s paired up with Cassie, she goes out of her way to be mean and not complete the project with her. After all, she has her standards.

Things escalate quickly and lead to the food fight to end all food fights which results in the lunch lady quitting and Molly and Cassie finding themselves assigned to work in the lunch room. Their punishment which really does fit the crime or in their principle’s words, the “solution that addresses their conflict,” is to work in the lunch room and cook a hot lunch everyday until such a time when the student body votes that they make better lunches than the previous lunch lady. And it must be stated that the previous lunch lady was no culinary genius. In fact, it is generally accepted that her food was only just edible. So it shouldn’t be a problem to be better, right? Well…only if the girls can get over themselves and work together. Which of course they can’t – leading to several hilarious situations that keep their situation on a downward course.

Molly is a bit of a pill. She is rude and mean and generally unapproachable. Cassie is enthusiastic, sweet, and tries very hard to get Molly to be friendly with her. But even Cassie has her limits. It’s when Cassie begins to push back and exact her revenge on Molly for her poor treatment that the book really starts to get going. Her sweet, innocent demeanor makes her strategy for payback all the more enjoyable.

Plainly put, this book was just a super enjoyable light read. I found the secondary characters all much more likeable than Molly, our narrator. There is Edmund, the kitchen help that may or may not be out to get them, Clyde, the dorky dessert maestro, and a whole other cast of quirky characters.

There were some twists and turns in the plot that I didn’t expect, very nice character development (especially with Molly – who does give up and repent her horrible meanness), and a very satisfying conclusion. Not to mention a heck of an attractive cover. Good stuff all around.

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