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A la Carte

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  117 ratings  ·  38 reviews
SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD LAINEY DREAMS of becoming a world famous chef one day and maybe even having her own cooking show. (Do you know how many African American female chefs there aren’t? And how many vegetarian chefs have their own shows? The field is wide open for stardom!) But when her best friend—and secret crush—suddenly leaves town, Lainey finds herself alone in the kitch ...more
Hardcover, 281 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Community Reviews

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This started off as a pretty good novel and finished very very strong, turning my like into love. 17 yr old Elaine (Lainey) lives in the Bay Area with her mother who is co owner of La Salle Rouge restaurant. Lainey is pretty good in the kitchen as well and dreams of having her own vegetarian cooking show. A la Carte is about much more then a girl who wants to be a chef. Its also about a teenage girl who falls for the wrong guy. Lainey has known Sim since grade school. The two used to be very clo ...more
Lainey dreams of being the next Julia Child and having her own cooking show. But first she has to negoiate the reminder of her senior year, avoid being too organized by her mother and deal with the gorgeous boy who only shows up when he wants something. Sim and Lainey were childhood friends and Lainey has had a crush on him forever. When he decides to leave town, he asks Lainey to keep secrets and take actions that violate her mother's trust in her. Characterizations are nicely done here and Lai ...more
Amy Y.
A la Carte by Tanita S. Davis is about a young 17 year old girl named Elaine whose dream is to become a world famous chef inspired by Julia Child and becoming a star in her own cooking show. However, her dreams of becoming of becoming a world-renown chef is halted when her secret crush and best friend runs away from home. Alone and determined, Elaine does whatever she can do to pursue her dream of vegetarian cooking and save her long term best friend before everything in her life shatters into m ...more
Sian Jones
One of my obsessions lately is voice -- in that I bow down to folks who create narration that makes me feel as if I'm hearing a human voice, confused, struggling, funny, smart, flawed. This one really manages that, manages to be inside the head of a seventeen-year-old girl who far more resembles the teenager I was than the ones I usually read about. Lainey makes mistakes and missteps that make my insides twist in recognition, and at the same time I feel her frustrations so keenly. This book is m ...more
Susan Berger
I pre ordered the paperback of A la Carte March 24th. It arrived last week. I started reading it last night and couldn't put till down till I finished.
I loved it. I loved Lainey and her mom and her friends and the jazz choir and the Salle Rouge and I adored the recipes. The first one I am going to try is the gingerbread.

I got to the end about three AM and I was so sad it was over. I can't wait to share this book.
Because I love to cook, I like novels that have recipes and center around cooking: Dianna Mott Davidson,Joanne Fluke,etc. This novel is similar in that it had food at its core and is filled with recipies in the text. I like the recipes and ideas, but the novel left a rather bland taste. It might appeal to some teens, but, I think it's plot does not have enough flavor to satisfy most.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katrina Burchett
Seventeen year old Elaine (Lainey) Seifert lost her dad when she was three. She lives with her mother,Vivianne. LaSalle Rouge is a French-Asian-Californian restaurant that receives rave reviews from critics and Vivianne owns it. Lainey dreams of becoming a celebrity chef. There's no place she'd rather be than in the kitchen of her Mom's popular establishment and there's nothing she'd rather be doing than cooking. Food seems to be this young lady's life. Yes, it is definitely her passion. She lov ...more
There wasn't much romance in this book, sadly but im glad that there was so much more meaning to this book, like growing up. as a matter of fact, i was jealous of Elaine, or lainey because she knew exactly what she wanted to do and is just so certain of her future, unlike me. it kind of made me want to consider more of what i wanted to do for my future, since im getting closer and closer to college.
In addition to growing up, Sim, lainey's crush, made a very dramatic decision, which was to run aw
 Imani ♥ ☮
As soon as I saw that this book was about an African American vegetarian girl I had to read this book. I mean, like this book says there's not many black vegetarians out there, heck there's not even that many vegetarians period, so it was cool that I could read about a girl that actually has something in common with me. I'll admit that the beginning was kind of slow but the action and drama in the middle made up for it. Lainey, as I told you is an African American girl who's a vegetarian living ...more
A la Carte Random House, 2008., 280 pp.
Tanita S. Davis ISBN 978-0-375-84306-8

At first I thought this book was just going to be about cooking. But no, it has a decent plot with the joy of cooking mixed in. Its funny because this book has recipes in it, Lainey the main character, is constantly making something, and each time we are given a recipe incase we want to create what we have just read. I think that was a great touch to the book because it added to it, the recipes didn't look standard type
An empty plate hits the stainless steel deck in the kitchen of La Salle Rouge with a clatter. (1)

Rarely do I so completely agree with a jacket flap. But in this case, it is right on.

Seventeen-year-old Lainey dreams of becoming a world famous chef one day and maybe even having her own cooking show. (Do you know how many African American female chefs there aren't? And how many vegetarian chefs have their own shows? The field is wide open for stardom.) But when her best friend--and secret crush--su
Jenny Chen
A La Carte

A La Carte Random House Children’s Book, 2008, 278 pp., $8.99
Tanita S. Davis 978-0-375-84306-8
“What else are you willing to do for a friend, Elaine? How much are you willing to give away?” Elaine’s Mother bellowed (page 246).Elaine, also known as Lainey, has her life planned out and she’s determined to become a celebrity chef, and nothing will stop her… That is until her ex best friend starts talking to her again and showing up at her house. How much was she losing and how much could
Jessica Day
A la Carte was just....not my cup of tea. I'm not a cook and I don't enjoy baking so the food aspect of the novel really didn't appeal to me, though nothing did. In the beginning of the story, I really liked Lainey as a main character because she was unique. She says it herself in the beginning of the book, how many African-American vegetarian cooks are there out there? However after bad decision and bad bad decision, she really started to get on my nerves. Her character was random and completel ...more
Elaine is an African American vegetarian who wants to become a television chef. She spends plenty of time in her mother's multi-ethnic restaurant and lives and attends school in a multi-ethnic middle class Northern California neighborhood. These details alone were enough for me to give this story a try.

While I appreciate the world the protagonist lives in and can relate to some of her personality quirks, Elaine was a particularly frustrating protagonist. I was especially irritated by her tenden
Henry Acosta
Elaine's big dream in life is to become the next Julia Child. She cooks almost every minute of her life, but that changes when her ex-best friend and crush, Simeon, disappears after a party. Lainey is determined to set her life straight, and make peace with her mom.

I really don't wnat to give a book a bad rating, but giving "A La Carte" 4 or 5 stars would be an all-out lie. The plot was good at first, but for me, the story got confusing and off-topic. I didn't really feel Tanita (the author) kne
More dramatic than I expected. A little intense in certain parts. Ended well. Not really sure what I think about it.
Heather (Capricious Reader)
I just love Ms. Davis's books! Another great one here.
Jul 14, 2008 Laurie added it
Shelves: wmslibrary
I enjoyed this novel about a high school senior who worships Julia Child and dreams of being a TV chef some day. Lainey is a sympathetic protagonist, devoted to her own interests (she does not have a lot of friends, and while she does all right in school, it's not a major focus of her life or the book). The main thing missing from the book is a touch of humor; it was serious overall, though the recipes and Lainey's enjoyment of food and cooking add some leavening.

The author is blogger TadMack.
While it's true this is a story that has not been told--about an African-American teenager who wants to be a celebrity chef--the actual story part is not stellar. It's not awful either. The recipes are a cute addition but the main character may have a few too many quirks to come across as realistic. Still, as someone who loves to cook, I like reading anything that involves cooking, even when it's not incredible. There are likely teens out there who would identify with Laine and enjoy this book.
Kate Mowery
Lainey has a dream - to become the first African-American female celebrity chef, but first, she's got to get through high school. One of the biggest problems is that she can't see that her best friend, Sim, doesn't treat her the way a friend should. When he runs away from home, she lends him $500 and lies to her mother about what happened. Throughout Lainey's difficult year, cooking remains the center of her world and the book contains many of her original (and delicious!) recipes.
It never would have occurred to me that a high school student would have dreams of becoming a celebrity chef, but that's exactly what Lainey wants. In addition to her cooking and future aspirations, this book deals with her discovery that a best friend is not the same person he always was and that she needs to give him up in order to grow up. The plot was good, but typically teen angst. The recipes included were a nice touch.
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Erin
Cover Story: A Puzzle
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Like a Julie and Julia That Doesn't Make Me Want To Kill Myself
Bonus Factors: Recipes, Saint Julia, Old-Fashioned YA
Relationship Status: Fellow Foodies

Read the full book report here.
This was a story about a young lady who wanted to be a famous vegetarian chef. Her inspiration was Julia Child. Although, this book was about food it really didn't provide any sustenance. It was just ok. I liked the fact that there were handwritten recipes in the book because it lead to an air of authenticity. This author is really talented and I wish this story had been a little more interesting.
Aug 19, 2008 Sara added it
One of the best things about A la Carte is how the main character, Lainey, is patiently, lovingly, painstakingly devoted to experimenting with her cooking. We get to "play along" as she creates her dishes.

The writing here is like the recipes themselves: never showy or overly gooey, but instead, well-crafted and devoted to the right details that make a dish (or a book) worth savoring.

Feb 17, 2012 Brianna rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
A fine book about a girl who makes some stupid decisions and then has to deal with the consequences. Elaine is a tough character to connect with, so that's why I can only give this book 3 stars. The descriptions of food throughout the book were killer - it definitely made me very hungry.

Full review here:
Ok, ignore the cover and just pick this one up! I loved the story of aspiring chef Lainey, who doesn't have much going on in her life besides school and cooking. Everything gets shaken up when her old friend Simeon starts coming around again, making Lainey question what's really important in her life. Sweet, funny, and full of great recipes to try at home!
This was a cute comtemp!
The main character did frusterate though more than a few times. She was rude and mean while thinking she was in the right. She did grow out of it but it took her a while....
I found the descriptions of the food made me hungry! lol Overall it was a fun light read. I recommend it if you just want to relax on a lazy day.
Aug 14, 2009 Dani rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
Davis does a good job of portraying the push and pull that can occure between a mother and a teenage daughter even when the daughter is a "good girl". The story is also a good illustration of what it can feel like when you outgrow a friendship.
A really thoughtful and intelligent young adult novel that took me back to my own adolescent feelings of longing to grow up but also worrying about what might be left behind. Smart, sassy and a really fun, captivating read.
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