Food and Book Pairing: The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley

The Book:

  • Title: The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre
  • Author: Robin Talley
  • Publisher:  Berkley
  • Release Date: 12/1/20
  • Genre: Romance, Fiction
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Trigger Warnings: Mentions of fire, mentions of small injuries, mentions of blood, mentions of homophobia, injury (broken leg), “slut-shaming”
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything. What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over. Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel. Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.

Very few pages into The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, I knew that I would love this book. As a theater nerd, I loved (and related to) Melody’s passion for the theater. I was in Les Misérables when I was 11, and I have been obsessed ever since. It was so fun to read a story about putting on a show that means so much to me.

There were so many fun little nuggets that are dropped into the book that brought me joy as a theater fan. From Melody saying her friend, Dom, is “no Jonathan Groff” to Odile singing “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” from Songs for a New World for her Les Misérables audition, these tidbits made my theater-nerdy heart smile. I also appreciated that Robin Talley chose well-known theatrical pieces to put at the center of the story like Romeo and Juliet and Les Misérables, so that people who are not quite as Broadway-obsessed as I am won’t be alienated.

It was especially poignant to read a book set around a show happening in April 2020, when theaters all around the country and the world were all shut down due to COVID-19. Robin Talley addresses this beautifully in her afterward of The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre. Reading the book almost felt like living in an alternate universe version of 2020 with Melody and her friends.

Melody and Odile are easy to root for as the story’s central couple. Melody begins the book seeing Odile as as unattainable Broadway and movie star, but they quickly make a deep connection that allows Melody to see Odile as someone with vulnerabilities. I love that they have a shared passion for theater and how that brings them together. It made me sad that they have to hide their relationship from the people around them.

There is a lot of focus in The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre about everything that can go wrong in a live performance. It is certainly true that there is no such thing as a perfect show and that people tend to be obsessed with “onstage mishaps.” Melody and the crew at Beaconville High really do seem to worse luck than most. It disappointed me that there is such a gap between the tech crew and actors at the school for much of the book because to me, theater is all about coming together to create something. It is heartening that Melody and friends learn this lesson as their production faces crises.

In a world where professional and school theaters are closed, The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre made me feel connected to the theater community. I highly recommend it to anyone missing the thrill of sitting in the audience or backstage.

Food Pairing: Pizza

Homemade pizza has been a pandemic staple in the Kelly household. I mean, who doesn’t love pizza? It is also a staple at cast parties, making it the perfect pairing for The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre.

This pizza dough is our go to recipe. It only requires five minutes to rise and another five or so to knead, making it easy to make when you don’t have a lot of time. Every time we’ve made this crust, it’s been perfectly chewy. We also have a pizza stone that ensures the bottom of the crust is crispy.

As a New Yorker, of course, I am partial to very thin crust pizza. The good thing about making your own pizza is that you can roll out the crust to your desired thickness. It is also so much fun to customize your toppings to make your pizza exactly how you want it. We tend to use whatever vegetables we have in our fridge or freezer.

I can imagine Melanie’s dads making pizza to serve to the cast and crew of Beaconville High’s next show. I also highly recommend taking up making pizza as a new cooking adventure.

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