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Dear Julia

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  298 ratings  ·  75 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

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)
368th out of 611 books — 1,955 voters
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26th out of 133 books — 17 voters

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Community Reviews

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The Library Lady
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
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!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Apr 21, 2010 CLM rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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.

So well written, absolutely amazing! Great characters! Unpredictable ending, will keep you guessing until the very end! I'd say this is the best book I've ever read!
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
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!
Becky R.
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
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BookChic Club
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
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
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

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
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
Feb 02, 2010 Nian rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
So far in reading the book dear Julia there is a girl named Elaine who has always wanted to be like Julia child. Ever since she was a child she would write letters to Julia child bur never sent them because she was to shy. When she was six she was already making French inspired dishes. There s also another girl named Isadora but she didn't like her name so she changed it to a font on her computer named Lucida San. Lucida has to moms and has always wanted to be rich and famous. One day while at a ...more
A great cast of characters- a shy girl that has taught herself how to cook in the style of Julia Child, a house full of brothers who eat the meals and sometimes serve as sous-chefs, a stay-at home dad who teaches yoga, a congresswoman mother fighting for women's rights, and a best friend that comes to school in costume. Elaine, the main character is a great cook with a secret ambition of becoming a chef, secret because her feminist mother doesn't believe a woman should be stuck in the kitchen. H ...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.
More about Amy Bronwen Zemser...
Beyond the Mango Tree

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