The book’s inciting incident is Elise meeting her Romeo at a sweets shop, so of course the book is going to be deliciously adorable and sweet enough to make your dentist advise against reading it. Even when Rajeev is being a royal jerk as the editor in chief of the middle school newspaper, his sweet side shows through any time his macaron Juliet comes up in conversation. His dad puts a lot of pressure on him not to pursue the arts despite Rejeev’s love of drawing, so his attitude is understandable too. Cultural pressures, man.
Can you tell I’m happy when books for kids present boys of color as romantic leads without exoticizing them? BECAUSE I AM.
In addition to bumbling around and recruiting her new friend to help her figure out whether Artist Rajeev or Newspaper Rajeev is the real Rajeev, Elise slowly grows closer to her new stepsister too. The girls initially hate each other in a very Cinderella-esque way, but the two slowly bond as sisters and as friends. In 2017, I’m going to take more time to praise positive female friendships/relationships in the books I read and this is a good place to start. Though they talk about Elise’s boy trouble a bit, it’s more about them adjusting to one another as sisters and getting ready for a new baby half-sibling to arrive.
Above all, I want to know where exactly Elise’s school is because their school newspaper is taken very seriously and is a bit of a Big Deal. It’s even printed weekly! My middle school had no newspaper whatsoever and the high school paper I worked on was super low energy. We never had more than ten people on staff and put out an issue maybe every 2-4 weeks? Depended on whether we were doing a print edition or online edition. We were never rushed and never worried about layouts. We didn’t even have student reporters on specific beats, let alone placed on a food beat like Elise!
What Left Me Wanting:
The surprising importance of Elise’s middle school newspaper may be your first indication that believability is stretched a bit. Another instance where reality is stretched to fit the story: Elise and Rajeev are allowed to wander off entirely on their own during a field trip for a talk. We weren’t allowed to split on our own with or without telling someone in high school, let alone in middle school. A single exception for a sophomore year Spanish class is a bit too complicated for me to go into, but it involved Epcot and a big project and nearly ended my longest-lasting friendship.
Kyan, one of Elise’s new friends, really put a damper on things as well. His behavior and some of the things he says about the girl he likes remind me too much of the archetype Nice Guy and I began to dread his arrival in a scene. Even when he’s acting like a genuinely kind kid, the stench of Nice Guy stuck around.
Honestly, I think Macarons at Midnight might have been more believable if it were a YA novel instead of MG. Regardless, it’s a novel as sweet as the macarons on the cover and a story I’ll be happy to revisit in the future. Now here’s hoping I can get back into my reviewing groove soon so they aren’t as poorly written as this.
*very sweet read
*great growth in Lise's relationship with her stepsister