I really enjoyed the opening scene in this book. It was packed with physical humor as 11-year-old Gladys attempted to cook like a professional chef...with her dad's welding torch. From that scene, the author developed an interesting premise - where Gladys submits an entry for a major newspaper's writing contest. When her entry to the contest is placed in the wrong pile, it is mistaken as the cover letter of a job applicant. I liked the concept, but I ended up giving the story less than four stars in the area of development.
From the author's website:
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
Second, the plot points in this story happen more than a little coincidentally for me. It's a little too convenient for the plot that things occur in the way they do, and when they do, I can't help but roll my eyes. In fact, author Tara Dairman takes great leaps to make things work out for her story - taking readers the long way around just to explain how this all connected. At one point, I found myself yearning for it to happen quicker.
Finally, I do not like the way that Dairman seems to disregard the character's safety in the big city. Because Gladys is so deceptive of her parents, she places herself into a situation that could be very dangerous, alone in the middle of New York City. Because they do not find out about her deception, the reader is never shown the consequences of her actions. Further, another family, when it comes down to it, abandons Gladys in the restroom of a Broadway show - again with no negative consequences whatsoever. I felt that the deceptions, the sneaking around, and the scheming were not needed for the story. Gladys could have conducted herself "above board" the whole time, and things would have turned out the same - or - Gladys could have found herself in some darker situations, and readers would have received the added theme of personal survival in the urban jungle.