ARC Review: Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success by Jessica Parra

  • Title: Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success
  • Author: Jessica Parra
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Release Date: 5/16/23
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Rating: ★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary:  Graduation is only a few months away, and so far Rubi Ramos’s recipe for success is on track. *Step 1: Get into the prestigious Alma University. *Step 2: Become incredibly successful lawyer. But when Alma waitlists Rubi’s application, her plan is in jeopardy. Her parents–especially her mom, AKA the boss–have wanted this for her for years. In order to get off the waitlist without her parents knowing, she needs math tutoring from surfer-hottie math genius Ryan, lead the debate team to a championship–and remember the final step of the recipe. *Step 3: Never break the ban on baking. Rubi has always been obsessed with baking, daydreaming up new concoctions and taking shifts at her parents’ celebrated bakery. But her mother dismisses baking as a distraction–her parents didn’t leave Cuba so she could bake just like them. But some recipes are begging to be tampered with…When the First Annual Bake Off comes to town, Rubi’s passion for baking goes from subtle simmer to full boil. She’s not sure if she has what it takes to become OC’s best amateur baker, and there’s only one way to find out–even though it means rejecting the ban on baking, and by extension, her parents. But life is what you bake it, and now Rubi must differentiate between the responsibility of unfulfilled dreams she holds, and finding the path she’s meant for.

We all know how much I love cooking and baking and books that center around food. I was drawn to Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success just from the title.

Rubi finds out that she got waitlisted at Alma, and due to a misunderstanding, her parents believe she got in. Of course, for the plot of the story, this needs to happen, but it felt a little contrived to me. It also made me lose respect for Rubi pretty quickly when she didn’t correct the assumptions of her parents. Of course, her parents put a lot of pressure on her, but they still deserve the truth about something as important as college acceptances. (I also felt this way when Seth Cohen lied to his parents about getting into Brown on The OC).

Maybe it’s a sign that I’ve gotten old, but I was more fascinated by Rubi’s parents’ story than Rubi’s. Her mom is presented as an obstacle to Rubi’s dreams, but she clearly is also a smart and driven businesswoman. She cares deeply about her daughter and wants her to live a successful life. I would read a spinoff novel from Ms. Ramos’s perspective any day. It made me sad that Rubi and her father go behind Ms. Ramos’s back so often throughout the story. She at least deserves better than that from her husband.

I was impressed that Rubi doesn’t take the opportunities she’s offered for granted. She finds herself sitting across from the Dean of Admissions at Alma, and she finds herself in an uncomfortable position.

She wanted to know how much I’d scaled to get here. If she should extend her bejeweled hand and give me one last pull up.

Rubi feels as though the Dean is just interested in being a white savior and is not interested in what Rubi has in common with her prospective future classmates. However, instead of letting this bother her, she allows herself to be fueled by it.

I wanted Alma more than ever. There was no bottom to how much I wanted it. Not just for my sake, or my parents’. But because one day, I wanted to be the person sitting where Addison sat, perched atop the highest peak in all of Pelican Point, across from a person who, like me, needed a hand on the way up.

I was impressed with Rubi’s determination and strength in the face of someone treating her in a condescending and problematic way. Rubi finally won me over in this moment.

Predicatably one of my favorite parts of this book was the descriptions of the delicious treats Rubi bakes. She is thoughtful and creative in her bakes. Her croncha, a mix between a croissant and conchas (a Hispanic sweet bread), sounds absolutely delicious. I also love how she realizes how connected baking and math are and uses her baking knowledge to improve her math skills.

Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success is as sweet as one of Rubi’s bakes, but it doesn’t have the emotional impact I was hoping for.

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