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Dear Julia

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  323 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews

Elaine Hamilton has never wanted to be the center of attention. She'd like nothing more than to cook quietly in her kitchen, mastering French cooking with the recipes of the great Julia Child.

So how did she end up with cameras zooming in on her and a crowd cheering her on?

Well, it involves . . .

an eccentric best friend named after a font,

five lively brothers constantly

...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Greenwillow Books (first published October 1st 2008)
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2010 Best Books for Young Adults (Nominations)
369th out of 638 books — 2,005 voters
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Dishes on the Cover
31st out of 136 books — 21 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 633)
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The Library Lady
Nov 25, 2013 The Library Lady rated it did not like it
How did I hate this book? Let me count the ways:

A heroine whose awkwardness was NOT endearing--she reminded me of that equally awful series by Susan Juby about a girl named Alice.

A sidekick whose wackiness is just plain irritating.

A male villain whose actions seldom make much sense.

Another helpless, wacky father who has no idea what's going on, and a mother who is a feminist sterotype.

Brothers who are given one character trait and that's it--the cross dressing brother(really), the spelling champ
...more
Clare
Jul 01, 2009 Clare rated it it was amazing
In this excellent book, the main character, Elaine, is a shy teen with a dream. She wants more than anything to become a chef, trained at a school in Paris, just like her idol, Julia Child. She befriends a girl named after a font, and together they strive to make their dreams come true! I liked it a lot because it involved yummy French food with cool names, and struggles between mother and daughter!
Marieme
Apr 15, 2009 Marieme rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marsha
While this young adult novel celebrated one girl’s love affair with French cooking, I decided against giving it high marks. I wasn’t sure why at first; I generally adore books that deal with cooking and food and I didn’t know why this one had failed to move me like other books such as “Play It Again, Spam”, “How to Cook a Tart” and “The Food of Love”.

Finally, I realized what the deficit was. Elaine Hamilton, the book’s shy chef, loves to cook; she is a long-time worshipper of Julia Child. But y
...more
Hillary
Jun 07, 2009 Hillary marked it as i-give-up
I just don't have time anymore for books that aren't obviously bad, but are perhaps just materially unsound. I was born to like the premise, geeky loner girl loves Julia Child and loves to cook despite her feminist mother and hooks up with a loner extrovert and things start to change. Familiar YA ground adapted to a topic I like (Julia Child). And the author is definitely competent when it comes to sentence structure and the YA sense of the vernacular. But I just don't buy the "she mastered Juli ...more
CLM
Apr 21, 2010 CLM rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Laurie
Quirky and appealing story about a shy teen who is obsessed with cooking (and whose descriptions of food are mouth watering). By making a friend who is her opposite, Elaine is drawn out of her shell and gains some much needed self worth. Her friend, Lucida, is more annoying because such an imperfect friend - yet don't we all have one of those? A friend who ignored us in high school or college when a boy beckoned a finger, yet whom we later forgave?
Cindy Dobrez
Jan 05, 2009 Cindy Dobrez rated it liked it
Sheer fun for cooks (or people who like to eat!) This book reminded me of a Joan Bauer book, for its characters and heart (although Chris the cross-dressing brother or the two moms are not standard fare in Bauer books). Contrivances abound in the plot, but I didn't care, I just rolled with the fun. A bonus was the friendship that develops between two very different girls who support each other (mostly) just when the other really needs it.
Michele
Feb 03, 2009 Michele rated it really liked it
cute story... i love the idea of a cooking prodigy, but the main focus of this story was the idea of stepping outside yourself and reaching for your dreams
Maya
Jun 30, 2009 Maya rated it it was ok
it didn't wow me but i didn't hate it either. it had some good life lessons. if u like to cook this is the book for you!
Salsabrarian
Feb 04, 2016 Salsabrarian rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, cooking, food, outsider
Vastly entertaining novel about Elaine, a shy reticent teenager whose greatest passion is cooking and following in the footsteps of her culinary idol, Julia Child. (Elaine's walls are plastered with pictures of Julia rather than teenybop boy bands.) It takes wacky new friend Lucida Sans and Elaine's delightfully chaotic family of brothers to help Elaine find the courage to make her culinary dreams come true at a national competition. The descriptions of recipes and Elaine's cooking techniques ad ...more
Becky R.
Aug 09, 2010 Becky R. rated it really liked it
This was one of the quirkiest little books I'd read in awhile. Since I genuinely love to read "foodie lit," I'd wanted to read this one for quite some time. The references to sauces, pastries, and meat preparations were glorious, and made me a bit jealous that such a young girl could master them! Elaine was truly an introvert. Her likes and dislikes so different from other teenagers, that it was hard to even say she was a teen. Her best friend in the story, also a big eccentric, really brought E ...more
Book Concierge
Charming YA novel about a teen whose life ambition is to cook, and who has been secretly writing letters to her idol, Julia Child since she was 6 years old. But she’s never gotten an answer. That’s to be expected, since Elaine Hamilton is far too shy to actually mail the letters. Her mother, an elected official, is horrified at the thought her daughter would aspire to “domesticity” vs a profession. But Elaine follows her dream. At age six Elaine begins to rise early to prepare breakfast and pack ...more
Patricia
Jan 05, 2009 Patricia rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
BookChic Club
Nov 22, 2013 BookChic Club rated it really liked it
I was really intrigued by this concept and am so glad I got this book from HarperTeen FirstLook. Judging from the summary alone, you can tell it's gonna be a hilarious adventure and it is- I had many laugh-out-loud moments. But it's not just a humorous novel- there's some great character development in not only the main character but also all the secondary characters. I was really pleased with this book until the ending. Now I love happy endings and all, but for some reason, this just felt way t ...more
Deanna
Oct 24, 2009 Deanna rated it liked it
Overall, I thought it was a pretty good read, though some parts were extremely annoying (especially where Lucida came in with her stupid feather boa) but the last part with the cooking competition was a very very good part, like I-can't-put-the-book-down. It was very heated, especially where she found out Marceau Etienne was competing. I like how the author included Lucida and Elaine making up during the competition and Julia Child coming to encourage her. It was also a nice addition with the mo ...more
Bonnie Weglin
Jan 02, 2012 Bonnie Weglin rated it liked it
Elaine Hamilton is quite shy and has barely any friends, but she is extremely talented when it comes to cooking. She has always loved making Julia Child's recipes in particular. Her mother is not very supportive of her lifelong dream of becoming a chef, and would much rather have her follow in her footsteps involving government. But Elaine is not at all interested. Whenever Elaine has a question about something she writes a letter to Julia Child asking about it, though she never exactly mails th ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen for TeensReadToo.com

Elaine Hamilton's greatest desire is to be a chef like Julia Child. She practices her French cooking skills every evening at dinner, and has recipes memorized. She teaches her younger brothers about slicing and peeling. She even writes letters to Julia Child about her cooking, but has been too afraid to send any of them. Most of Elaine's family loves her cooking, but her congresswoman mother has high hopes for her shy daughter
...more
Frezanda
Feb 06, 2009 Frezanda rated it it was ok
Shelves: youngadult
Please excuse my rant about this book here. Ok, here I go.
I hate this book because i hate Lucida, the bestfriend( if she can be called that).I know she was weird..Eccentricity I can forgive. What I hate from her is her irresponsibility. Elaine met Lucida the first time when Lucida cause a fire that burn the town fair. It's an accident I know. We could not blame Lucida even though she was the one accidentally caused the catasthrope. What I despised is how easily and convicted she said" It's not m
...more
Nian
Feb 02, 2010 Nian rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
I really liked the cover and the premise of a semi awkward protagonist with a love for cooking. But, as we all know, when you have such expectations, they are sure to disappoint.

Instead of falling in love with the protagonist, I was extremely annoyed by Elaine. I fail to believe that she's never had a single friend. It also doesn't impress me that she's mastered French cooking as young as 8-12 years old. In fact, it's unrealistic, and I was more than irritated by the constant French phrases and
...more
Books4m
Feb 14, 2011 Books4m rated it it was amazing
You know that ever present hunting trip you call a visit to your local library? I tend to bring down several small pieces but rarely I land on a great find big or small and its like a minor victory! This book is my secret victory, I didn't find it on a book blog and no one recommended it , but I landed on an unsung great little find.
This book is about a high school girl in love with French cooking,a budding new friendship with a girl determined to be famous, a house full of boys who do her cook
...more
Courtney Johnson
Jan 18, 2016 Courtney Johnson rated it liked it
This was an interesting book. I didn't really like the way that Elaine talked but I did feel a connection with her and felt sad when her video was destroyed. I also thought the ending didn't feel right. Everything just sort of came into place for her. Even Julia Child showed up and offered her words of wisdom. It all just felt too forced. This was a fun book but one I wouldn't read again.
Sandy
Jul 05, 2010 Sandy rated it it was ok
Elaine has enjoyed cooking, but not just any cooking, Elaine has been preparing French cuisine since she was 6. She has also been writing letters to Julia Child since that time, which she has never sent. When she is a junior in high school she becomes friends with Lucida Sans - who wants to be famous, very badly, for anything really. Somehow, the two become thick as thieves and bring out the best in each other. But can their friendship survive some rocky patches?
The bad - Elaine was in many ways
...more
Abby
Dec 13, 2008 Abby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I love this book. The eccentric cast of character made reading this book a breeze. I kept wanting to find out what Lucida was going to think up next. And I can practically smell all the delicious french cuisine Elaine cooked up!
Here is my one complaint, and maybe someone can clear this up for me, why is a book published in 2008 and I therefore assume is taking place that same year has a very alive Julia Child going to a teen cooking competition when she has been dead for 4 years? did I miss some
...more
Emily
Oct 01, 2011 Emily rated it it was ok
Okay, it wasn't horrible. And the premise was actually cool: teenage girl loves to cook and especially loves Julia Child and French cooking. Mom is a congresswoman who doesn't want her only daughter stuck in the kitchen all day, as this is exactly what she has been fighting as a life-long feminist. But the book just wasn't good. First of all, extremely one-dimensional characters, to the point of caricature. Second of all, all the major plot points are contrived. And very little seems realistic. ...more
Laurie
Oct 01, 2009 Laurie added it
Recommended to Laurie by: Constance; Laura Lutz
Shelves: wmslibrary, food, lgbtq
I dislike nothing more than quirky characters--the ones who are nothing BUT their quirk--so I was a bit wary as I started reading Dear Julia. But man, the quirks work in this book. Funny and charming, a novel about pursuing your passion, about making friends, about being who you are despite what other people think. With some great food writing. Elaine training her six-year-old twin brothers as sous chefs is hilarious. Reading about Elaine's school lunch (which she prepares herself; in fact, she ...more
Sudan
Feb 12, 2013 Sudan rated it really liked it
i really like this book a lot. it make me laugh, it entertain me. i was surprised that this so quiet person, Elaine become a friend of this so talkative person, Lucida. i was jealous that Elaine has 5 little brothers. they create a lively atmosphere in the house even thought they fight alot. Especially the one of Elaine's twin brothers, Robyn, he call Elaine"Elaynee", i like him, he's very cute. in addtional, Lucida likes this very handsome boy,Croton. But Croton pretend to like Lucida, so she ...more
Julia Chatterley
Jan 21, 2015 Julia Chatterley rated it liked it
I really liked Dear Julia by Amy Zemser. I thought that people can really relate to the characters and betrays a good sense of character in the writing. My problem was that I was able to guess every single plot twist. It might of been just because I've read so many books and the plot really isn't as predictable as I think. Over all this was a really fun read about friendship and overcoming challenges.
Jodi
Jul 24, 2010 Jodi rated it liked it
Elaine Hamilton mastered the Art of French Cooking by the time she was eight. Her secret desire is to be a chef. Her mother, an ardent feminist congresswoman, believes that voluntarily being in a kitchen sets back women's rights for decades. But when Elaine meets Lucida Sans, yes - same name as the font - her whole life changes. Particularly when Lucida decides that Elaine should have a cable access show. After all, she taught her 6 year old twin brothers how to debone a whole fish into filets. ...more
HarryPotter Rocks
Mar 30, 2014 HarryPotter Rocks rated it it was amazing
I thought that this book was great, because the main character, Elaine, cooks for her father, brothers, and mother French recipes from Julia Child cook books. I think that's it's interesting to see what dish she's going to make next.
Rachael
Feb 28, 2016 Rachael rated it did not like it
Terrible! Don't even bother picking it up. The book was actually very frustrating to read. The characters in the book were very annoying and did not feel true to their age or their character development. The high school characters acted like elementary schoolers and the main character was over dramatized as a spineless wimp in comparison to her strong feminist mother and crazy eccentric friend. It was horrible! I wanted to strangle the main character! Smack her mom and punch her friend in the fa ...more
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Amy Bronwen Zemser is the author of Beyond the Mango Tree, an ALA Booklist Top of the List Editors' Choice and Publishers Weekly Best Book, which the New York Times called "astonishing." She lives in Poughkeepsie, New York, with her partner and their son Raymond.
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