Genderqueer and genderfluid representation abound in this utopic LGBTQ read about the magical power of food to divide or unite people and communities, a book which doubles as a love letter to Austin’s LGBTQ scene.
In A.R. Capetta’s The Heartbreak Bakery, Syd (no pronouns, please, just Syd) is a baker finishing high school while working full time at The Proud Muffin, an invaluable community space/cafe. Syd also just got dumped, ending a relationship that had spanned both middle and high school. To cope, Syd does the only possible thing: baking. But when Syd’s Unexpected Brownies hit the cafe floor, something strange happens: every couple that has one breaks up. Messily and immediately. Including the owners of The Proud Muffin. Racked with guilt and fear of losing a great workplace and second home, Syd resolves to find the perfect recipe to fix each shattered relationship. And who better to help than Harley, friendly cafe delivery person – check the pronoun pin on Harley’s bag to find the day’s pronouns. As they chase down each customer and make magical bakes, Syd and Harley grow closer. But is new love and magical baking enough to save The Proud Muffin?
If you’ve seen my YouTube videos for the library, you know I am an unskilled but enthusiastic baker – so you won’t be surprised that I loved Syd’s detailed, helpful recipes that were included in the text. I also loved Syd’s determined, “I can fix this” attitude, and the descriptions of Syd’s “fashion recipes” as Syd tries to express a vague sense of gender through creative outfits. The book as a whole does a good job at showing the rich spectrum of gender and sexuality in a vibrant, hopeful queer community. There’s also some thoughtful examinations of how relationships grow, break and heal, and the bakes that accompany each feeling make the story a treat for all senses. Best of all, despite the serious topics it digs into, the tone of the book is gentle and kind, hopeful of the best outcomes for everyone.
If you like stories of new love, healing after heartbreak, learning lessons about growing up, and – most importantly – food, this is the book for you.