Caramel Hearts | E. R. Murray | Published May 2016
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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Caramel Hearts is a lovely coming-of-age novel which tells the story of Liv who is struggling through her teenage years with an alcoholic mother and school bullies. When she finds her mother's old recipe book she discovers that she has a love for baking but money being tight makes it difficult. As her life begins to spiral out of control, Liv makes some poor decisions and she learns that doing the right thing isn't always the easiest.
I absolutely loved the relationship between Liv and her sister Hatty. Whilst their alcoholic mother is being treated, Hatty had to return home from university to look after her younger sister. She is struggling to be away from her friends and her studies but is trying her best to keep social services at bay. I liked that their relationship wasn't perfect; Hatty lost her temper sometimes and Liv didn't help out as much as she should have. They both said things in the heat of the moment that they didn't mean but you could tell that they both still cared about each other. I think the age gap made things more interesting too; Liv is still really young and so doesn't quite take responsibility for things whilst Hatty is older and knows more about "real life". Liv didn't quite get what her sister was feeling a lot of the time and it led to inevitable arguments but they soon find a way to connect with each other.
Absent parents, addiction and bullying are all dealt with realistically and represent real struggles that young people are going through every day. Some of the darker and emotional moments are hard to read (particularly the bullying) but a lot of readers are going to be able to connect and relate with that.
Caramel Hearts is beautifully written and I found myself flying through the pages. The recipes throughout the book are also such a nice touch but will definitely make you hungry! I'm craving various sweet treats now and may have to just try out a few!