If You Can’t Take the Heat

Penguin Workshop. Jun. 2024. 320p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593523445.
Gr 10 Up–Sixteen-year-old Theo has the entire summer mapped out—hang out with friends, listen to some music, get ready for the upcoming football season where he is a star player, and try to get over the recent breakup with his girlfriend. After Theo attends a concert with his friends and meets the enchantingly beautiful Julia, he suffers a freak accident while playing in a pickup football game with his friends. After surgeries to repair his shattered femur and a stint in the hospital, Theo begins to process the reality of his entire athletic career coming to an end. While he is recovering, Theo starts finding comfort in both his newfound love of cooking and Julia, who begins to visit him regularly despite having a boyfriend. After Julia convinces the chef of the upscale restaurant where she works to give Theo a shot as a prep cook, his life is forever changed. Theo begins to truly thrive in the restaurant setting as he embraces the team mentality it takes to create dinner each night. Set in 1980s Cleveland, this novel features a budding romance between Theo and Julia, as well as an accurate representation of a working restaurant in lots of vivid detail.
VERDICT A refreshingly different take on the romance genre, written from the male perspective, and a great purchase for all libraries.

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