Twelve year old Isabel is tired of living in her small town in Oregon. She wants to travel and try new things, but her mom is afraid of failure and never follows through with anything she does. Her mom does like to bake, and decides to open a cupcake shop with Isabel and Isabel’s dad’s help. Throughout the story, Isabel’s mom is trying out new cupcake flavors, and each chapter is titled with a different one. Isabel and her friend Sophie get to try them out, at least until Sophie goes to summer camp. Isabel is sad that Sophie is leaving, but she decides to spend the time that Sophie is gone babysitting to save some money to travel. Sophie tells her about a contest in a baking magazine that has a grand prize of a thousand dollars and a trip to New York City. Suddenly Isabel is inspired to bake, but not cupcakes. Her mom wants her to enter a cupcake recipe in the contest, and Isabel doesn’t want to upset her so she doesn’t tell her that she really wants to send in a recipe for tarts. Everyone is stressed out when they discover that a famous brownie chain store is opening soon in the neighborhood, which will give the cupcake shop a lot of competition. With days to go until the cupcake shop opening, Isabel’s mom panics and it looks like all of their hard work will go to waste if she gives up. While helping her mom get through her fears, Isabel finds out some things about her mom that she didn’t know, and a few things about herself, too.
This is a good book that is dramatic with some fun moments to keep it from getting too serious, and tween characters who work hard to make their dreams come true even when it isn’t easy. I really liked imagining Isabel’s new home, which her parents buy when they decide to open the cupcake shop. It is a former Laundromat with apartments above it, and Isabel’s room is purple, her favorite color. It must smell wonderful with all those cupcakes baking in the oven downstairs!