Friday, January 21, 2011


Scrambled Eggs at Midnight - Brad Barkley & Heather Hepler
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
# of pages: 272
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, Penguin
Scrambled Eggs at Midnight @ Parental Book Reviews
Calliope (or Cal as she calls herself) wants nothing more than to stay put; to stop traveling cross-country with her mother, sleeping in a tent, and abandoning all belongings whenever they pull up stakes. Meanwhile, Eliot misses the happy times he left behind when his father decided to open a camp for kids looking to lose weight and find Jesus. when Cal and Eliot meet by chance, they feel an immediate connection. together they must face their isolation, the threat of yet another move, and the deepening of eliot's father's obsession. in their case, love just might be everything it's cracked up to be.

This is what happens when I review a book over a week after I've read it - I start to get a wee bit fuzzy on the details, and I forget certain details.
For somebody who doesn't read a lot of contemporary books (I can seriously count on my fingers the number of contemp books I've read between now and last October), I really enjoyed Scrambled Eggs. Here's the thing: I'm a total escapist reader - I like to read substantial books that impact me but also distract me. Similarities are good, and being able to relate to a character is always nice (if not necessary), but I also like books that "take me away."
Scrambled Eggs was funny and quirky enough to do just that. Sure, some parts read slower than others, but the overall story was definitely a memorable one, and it's one that I would definitely recommend to all of you.
The story is told using dual first person narratives, and since two authors collaborated on the book, I definitely think they were able to pull off the unique-but-in-sync voices. There's a girl and a boy (usually), and in both their cases, "quirky" is an adequate word to describe their lives. The girl is constantly uprooted by her whimsical mother, who works - get this - as a "wench" in Renaissance Fairs across the county. Talk about an "out-of-the-ordinary" existence.
Then you've got a boy whose formerly ordinary dad has become one of those annoying TV "Jesus Screamers" (term that I, as a religious person, think is pretty clever - used to describe certain evangelists who always seem to "scream" at their audiences) and who's gotten rich off combining weight loss with religious gusto. And get this - he lives at the fat camp his family runs. Now I have to admit, the idea of living in a camping facility in North Carolina (why hello beautiful scenery!) was at first really cool, but as Eliot's story progressed, I realized: not so cool after all.
The best part of Scrambled, for me, was the beginning. 'Zany' is the word I'd use to describe it. We're first being introduced to the two leads, Calliope and Eliot, and learning about their the story progressed, it got a little heavier, but it always retained the "cute" card.
Two things I noticed though...
The relationship between Cal and Eliot is definitely sweet, and on the one hand I definitely appreciated it's portrayal as substantial and genuine. I don't mind telling y'all that I don't care for "flingy" romances - give me some substance! And 'substance' is indeed what I was given in this story. I liked that. I really liked that. However... there was just a little something about the romance angle that seemed 'off.' I made a note in my bookmark that said "It's not 'love at first sight,' it's more like 'I've figured out everything about you at first sight.'" Being able to "read" somebody that accurately and figure out all this bare-your-soul stuff about them is a tad unlikely. I loved that they used words like "real deal" to describe their relationship, but...their conversations went from cute and flirty to bare-your-soul like *that*. A little more development would have been nice. And FYI - if you didn't like Ethan Wate (or if you thought he didn't sound like a boy), you may feel the same way about Eliot. I thought he was a good character, but sometimes the things he said were a little too insightful, you know? Like the kinds of things a middle-aged writer would say...
And to the subject matter. Religion is a notable factor in this book (which surprised me, since this isn't a Leafwood or Tyndale product), and it kind of rotated between being used as a source of inspiration and as a punching bag. To be honest, there were times when I wasn't sure if the authors were jabbing money-chasing "evangelists" or just religious people in general, but I still liked the book overall.
The last thing that kind of stood out: every single adult in this story was so complacent. Nobody got mad or had a temper. Everybody was so understanding...BS! Parents, authority figures - they totally revolved around the teen characters in this story. All the time. That was a wee bit strange.
But I love characters who get a reaction out of me; I love characters who make me care. And I definitely cared about the two MCs - they were great kids in pretty weird circumstances, trying to make the best of their lives. And now, seven days after finishing Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, that's what I remember most. If this is a title you've never heard about before, please go check it out on Goodreads. My recommendation is to give it a try. You just might love it.

Final Grade: A-

Notable Quotes

I fall asleep to the sound of our tent rustling in time with the trees, and with a longing so strong that I can't even say for sure what it is that I'm missing. I can't even say for sure if what I need is something I've had before and lost, or something that I'm still waiting to find. But it's there. An ache deep inside me. A slowly twisting pain that I try to ignore, because it threatens to pull me under if I let it.
- pg. 17
The first book The Dad published was called Eye of the Needle: Why God Wants You Thin!
You might have noticed, there are lots of exclamation points in the God business. I think that's what Mom is tired of, all the exclamation. Maybe she just wants her life to have a few periods, a few quiet little commas.
- pg 22
I know what most people would think - crazy boy in the basement making pipe bombs, stirring up poison, adding to his list of enemies every day, one of those pale wussies who are a little too into their video games. Well, that is so wrong, because none of the cabins even have a basement.
That was funny.
- pg 26
Delores says that money doesn't matter and in a way she's right, but sometimes it might be nice to not have to worry all the time about everything.
- pg 42
Instead of the feeling that I usually have, as if at any moment I might just drift away from the ground and float right up into the sky, I feel heavy, like my feet are firmly touching the ground. And the weight feels like it's in the center of my chest, like my heart suddenly is full and overfull. And all of the sudden I feel like crying, but in a good way. In a very good way.
- pg 94
"I want you to know, Eliot...I believe in God just as much as he does. I mean, not that it's a contest, but we have very different ideas. I don't think you seek out God directly, or else He would just come down and visit us once in awhile. I think He wants us to seek him out through other people, through being in love with the world. He's in the ocean, He's in a bagful of snacks and the way you end up laughing about them. He's in the laughing. Does that make sense?"
- pg 176
She tells me she has a good heart, tells me that it's what's inside that matters, but I don't think that's right. No one can read the contents of your heart. It's what you say, how you act that matters.
- pg 191
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