My wonderful friend Indigo Wood introduced this book to me, and I just knew I had to pick it up! I love a good Shakespeare retelling, but I haven’t read a MG one yet!
Title: Midsummer’s Mayhem
Author: Rajani LaRocca
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Genres: MG Contemporary Fantasy Retelling
Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad’s a renowned food writer, Mom’s a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It’s easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi’s dream of proving she’s not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it’ll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.
But when Mimi’s dad returns from a business trip, he’s mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.
Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she’s never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.
But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings’ romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what’s happened. In the process, she learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet. . . .
I want to start by talking about Mimi. Mimi is an amazing baker with big dreams who idolizes her dad, who is a food writer/critic. She wants to be the best baker in the world, and she does that by making new and interesting dishes by combining classic flavors with flavors from her Indian heritage. I loved Mimi so much, and wanted her to reach her dreams. But the journey seems difficult, especially when she just can’t seem to get things right. Her siblings are all amazing at something, and she’s just not sure she can measure up. Her insecurities are so relatable, as is her drive to do her best. Her relationship with her parents and her siblings are so familiar, rife with complications and love alike, even before the Shakespeare-esque shenanigans happen.
I love the nods to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, from the zany relationship troubles to the magical forest (and are there actually fairies at the local bakery?) For those who’ve read this Shakespeare comedy, this book will be a real treat; but for those who haven’t read it, they will still definitely enjoy the book. It is full of fun and colorful characters, a fast-paced plot with a baking competition, and just the right amount of wonder and whimsy.
I had the immense pleasure of listening to the audiobook, and I have to say that it was a fantastic experience. The narrator does an excellent job of expressing Mimi’s character through her voice, and her voices for the other characters are just as good. I would highly recommend listening to this wonderful book.
- Get ready for some amazing food descriptions! I listened to this book on the way home from work, and I was always so hungry getting back home!
- The siblings and friendship relationships in this book are so beautiful and sweet. Definitely one of my favorite parts.
If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, or MG, or fantasy in general, you should read this sweet, heartfelt, and hilarious novel! I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the author’s next books!