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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Victoria Reviews: Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs

I stumbled upon a description of Sarah Combs’ Breakfast Served Anytime while looking for some recommendations to get me through my post-Rainbow Rowell whirlwind.  I’d finished Fangirl and Eleanor and Park a month or so before, and nothing I picked up afterwards filled the void those two books left behind.  The description for Breakfast Served Anytime was unassuming, but one thing stuck out to me: the main character, Gloria, was headed for a camp for gifted students.
In high school, I took all the AP, honors, gifted, you-name-it classes I was offered.  I made my best friends and had the best times in those classes, and they represent a lot of what I loved about high school.  Understandably, most YA books about high schoolers focus on the hardships and drama of high school rather than the highlights; for a good number of kids, high school is one of the hardest times of their lives, and those kids need stories that tell them they aren’t alone.  Because of this, it is always a pleasant surprise for me to come across the odd story that echoes my own experience of high school life, which is what this book did for me.
It’s the summer before Gloria Bishop’s senior year of high school, and she’s headed to Geek Camp to study Secrets of the Written Word with the mysterious Professor X.  She gets to stay on a college campus - along with countless other Geek Campers - for four weeks.  At the end of camp, they will all be offered a scholarship that Gloria is determined not to accept to their home state’s flagship university: The University of Kentucky.
Gloria’s Geek Camp experience is riddled with meeting new people and making new friends.  Her roommate, Jessica, and down-the-hall-mate, Sonya, provide interesting contrast to Gloria’s more introspective yet optimistic personality.  Jessica and Sonya are take-charge kind of girls, and Gloria, to her own surprise, gets along with them easily.  Her comrades in Secrets of the Written Word are quite a different story: there’s the shy genius with unexpected depth, Calvin; no-nonsense go-getter and individualistic Chloe; and the egotistical, attention-hog, Mason, whom Gloria designates as the Mad Hatter.  The four of them meet up and spend most of their time in the Egg Drop CafĂ©, featuring the promise of “breakfast served anytime,” while uncovering X’s Secrets of the Written Word.
I loved reading about Gloria and her thoughts and perceptions of the world around her.  She reminds me so much of myself.  Her thoughts, feelings, and even her flaws felt so familiar and believable to me.  She loves literature, is addicted to a soda called Ale-8, and she loves the feeling of anticipation before something she’s excited about.  One of my favorite things about her is that she makes playlists on her iPod for certain moments or feelings in her life.  She has a Thoughtful Playlist that she listens to throughout the novel.  Gloria has all the quirks and flaws of a real person, and she’s beautifully portrayed.
Overall, this book reminded me of all the good times I had in high school.  It reminded me of the silly things I worried about, the simple crushes and crises of the times, and especially of the deep and lasting friendships I made there.  Overflowing with witty kids and literary references, this book made me laugh and smile more often than not.  I found myself reading quotes to whoever was sitting around me, and they always earned an appreciative chuckle.  It’s a lovely book that anyone that looks back on their teenage years with fondness (or who just likes a good literary joke) can appreciate.

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