Book Review | Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success

In Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success by Jessica Parra, Rubi loves to bake, but her parents want more for her. They want her to go to law school and be more successful. But when a baking competition judged by two celebrity chefs is announced in her town, she can’t resist. However, balancing that contest as well as the upcoming debate championships—and the burgeoning romance with the gorgeous surfer Ryan—proves difficult. And not all of this fits in with her parents’ recipe for success, so should she even chase these dreams in the end?

This is a cute book! I did the audiobook version, and the narrator Karla Serrato does an excellent job.

I liked Rubi well enough; she’s kind and talented but definitely not a Mary Sue. A lot of the time I wished she would just talk to her parents about her conflicted feelings about her future, but I also understand why she didn’t. It’s easy to see through her eyes why being the child of immigrant parents would involve some pressure. I think that part of the storyline was handled very well, not villainizing her parents but also showing that Rubi can be more than just the ideal “American dream” success story.

I also liked the other characters, especially Ryan. The romantic subplot wasn’t nearly as emphasized as I expected, but that was kind of refreshing. There was very little drama on that side of things, with Ryan being very lovely and supportive and fun. He is a pretty consistently a good boyfriend, and I was happy to see it.

The baking competition aspects were fun, too. I liked seeing Rubi’s creativity and some examples of Cuban foods. I kind of wish these scenes had had more emphasis in the book, because there was so much going on between these, debate, and love/family. Sometimes it was almost like the competition got sidelined, which was weird, especially after Rubi committed to it. I wanted a bit more baking drama!

That said, in the end, this was a very sweet, entertaining book. It grapples with identity, Cuban and American culture, and finding your passion. I kind of wish the resolution had been more obvious (did she go to school for law or cooking?), but it’s still a very lovely book. The characters are fun, the baking is great, and the romance is cute. It’s a nice light read as we head into summer!

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