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The Secret Ingredient

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  517 ratings  ·  92 reviews

Dish created by Stewart Lewis

Serves: hungry readers everywhere
Prep time: 0 minutes
Total time: 1-2 sittings

Recommended equipment: quiet, a cozy spot to curl up in, tasty snacks

1 dash girl, Olivia, sixteen
2 dollops loving dads, Bell and Enrique
3 fistfuls guitar-playing older brother, Jeremy
1 pint-size British best friend, Lola
5 gallons family
Hardcover, First Edition, 241 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Delacorte Press
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Average rating 3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  517 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Four stars: A simple summer read about family, love and changes.

Olivia drags down the alley behind Hank, a boisterous chocolate lab. In his quest to find a pizza box, Hank inadvertently drags Olivia to the back of a secondhand bookstore. Beside the backdoor is a cardboard box full of battered books and a sign that says $.25 each. Olivia finds a vintage cookbook from the sixties that she just can't resist. Olivia at sixteen is an aspiring chef. She cooks the weekly special at her father's restaur
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Ugh. I now know that a book can be both incredibly boring and have way too much going on at the same time.

This one had so much promise going dads, a cool British best friend, a cute boy, a search for a birth mother. What a let down. There is SO MUCH going on--like the author just threw every YA thing ever together. [spoilers] Gay dads not getting along, family restaurant going under, new job, cute boy proves untrustworthy, musician brother goes to jail, best friend's mom gets cancer, my
Julie Bradford
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Teens interested in cooking
I fell in love with the blurb and really wanted to love the book as much. It was a good read, but left me unsatisfied somehow. Olivia is a likable enough gal, but some of the plot details were a bit hokey to me. A psychic shows up and makes predictions, but I would have liked them wrapped up a little more at the close of the book. The plotline about the boyfriend had me turning pages; the "plot twist" with him was a bummer. The explanation at the end was a little vague.
I found the part about th
Mary Bronson
I thought this was an interesting young adult summer contemporary romance about a young sixteen year old girl who lives with two dads and use to live with an older brother who was also adopted like her and she wants this summer to be different. That is what happens when she meets this psychic who surprisingly gave her truthful information that would change her life. Plus I love the idea of adding a culinary twist to the story.
"tell me this," i say. "do you think there's some grand scheme to our lives and we just have to, like, give in to it?"

the truth about this book is that it disappointed me. there's not much more to it than that. when i saw the cover and read the synopsis, i was absolutely sure that i needed this book. i'm adopted, for all intents and purposes, and i've recently developed an affinity for cooking, so everything about this book's set up screamed for me to read it. for the first 20%, i was thinki
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog

Last year, I sat curled up at a hotel pool reading You Have Seven Messages. I fell hard for Stewart Lewis’ lyrical prose. So it was with great anticipation that I started The Secret Ingredient.

I love how Lewis has created another old soul character in Olive, a master chef in her own kitchen and her dad’s restaurant before she has even graduated high school. She’s insightful and loyal, as she wades through the many unknowns in her life: who is her
Farah Jay
Jul 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Olivia, a 16 year old teenage girl's world is about to change. Those are such cheesy lines, but this book wasn't that cheesy. The Secret Ingredient is a short and fast contemporary read. Olivia doesn't know her birth mother, but it's this summer that she's interested in finding out who she is. When she meets a psychic in the elevator who gives her a warning, Olivia starts connecting the dots about how her choices are connected. It's summer, so there's no school. Olivia starts working at a place ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
Couldn't get myself to finish this book. Got up to page 145 and just couldn't keep going. I don't like the writing style this book has. I feel like there's too many unnecessary "deep" moments/ thoughts. Like she would be cooking and then she'll be like "maybe this is what I should do, cut away all my problems like I'm cutting this onion" or something like that. This book has other flaws but I just can't think of them at this moment. I would not recommend this book. Others might like it but for m ...more
Dec 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

A very cute and creative story. It wasn't great but I still enjoyed reading it.
Margo Berendsen
This is a fun trip through a girl’s life in L.A. with a little bit of what we all crave from this setting: run-ins with actors (Jude Law – nice!) and a few insider peeks into movie biz, as Olivia works at a casting agency and gets to meet some, um, interesting clients. But mostly it’s a frolic through the ups and downs of family relationships, food, and budding romance all told with a great quirky voice that keeps you glued to the pages.

First line: Every day is sunny in Los Angeles, but it’s no
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kendra G
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The main character, Ollie, goes through a lot in her life, and it really puts your life in perspective on how everyone is going through something. The booked seemed a bit choppy, from going through one story then the next in a very short amount of time. However, I do like how she relates to Rose in the story, distracting herself from her own problems. The ending doesn't resolve everything, which is OK, as it solves the main problem. The story just seemed rushed. ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
great book has some things in it that I wouldn't suggest to us kids.
For a girl who's that grew up not knowing her mother has done pretty well with two dads as parents Olivia who's seventeen finds out how hard life can be plus working at a restaurant on Saturday's is making it hard at finding a job other than a cook.
Brittany S.
4 stars
Initial Impressions: Thank you to Random House for sending me the ARC for The Secret Ingredient blog tour!

The Secret Ingredient was a lot more than I expected it to be. I was unreasonably a bit wary of it at first and totally dove in to the book and the mysteries (and the food!), devouring the book (no pun intended) in an afternoon. It was a quick and enjoyable read!

Review originally posted on The Book Addict's Guide: I’m really glad that I got to be a part of this blog tour because I h
Megan Harris
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
It was an okay book. I loved how it used modern day situations but it was never really that interesting for me. It was kinda dry the whole way through and didn't have much of an ending. It almost seemed as if the author got tired of writing the book. ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was only 240 pages, thank goodness. The romance didn't have any chemistry, she was very "unlike other girls", and overall it didn't leave a big impression on me. Welp. (Also, it's definitely getting unhauled. Sorry.) ...more
Heather Reeder
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
A kids book- ellie and I read together. Recipes were fun. The kissing boy didn't really fit. ...more
Hazel Leu
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Cute, but I thought it could’ve been a little better. Looking forward to what this author writes next.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite, recommend, own
Good Y/A book
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
2.5 stars for this sappy romance. A nice easy read when you need a break. It held my interest for the most part but I’m glad to be done ✅
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Cute story about realizing what you already have.
Dannielle Bookworm
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Loved this book. Found it in an american dollar store many many years ago and just loved how easy of a read it was!!
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit, lgbt
I wouldn't say that this book is something I would recommend to readers of Thirteen Reasons Why like the blurb says. I anything it was watered down version of Sarah Dessen's books. There wasn't anything extraordinary about this book.

It tells the story of Olivia's summer before her junior year of high school, when she gets a job, learns that her fathers are having trouble paying off their bills, and goes on a search to find her birth mother.

I think that the reason for why I was less involved wi
Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis is a young adult contemporary novel that features a protagonist on a quest of sorts to find not only herself, but the past that has waited for the day her curiosity becomes too much to handle. Wonderful in its portrayal of same sex parenting, first love, identity, and what makes us us, The Secret Ingredient is an interesting, but slightly disco
Michelle (In Libris Veritas)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review

The Secret Ingredient is the story of a single summer in young Olivia’s life, a summer where things start to change. Olivia is beginning to feel like she’s missing something and she’s certain it’s her birthmother. Her fathers, Bell and Enrique, are struggling to make do with their slowly failing restaurant and her brother Jeremy is kind of a dreamer. The Secret Ingredient is the perfect summer time read; it’s short, sweet, has a touch of roman
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
As soon as I saw that this book was for fans of Sarah Dessen, I knew I had to read it ASAP. Sarah Dessen knows how to write a good contemporary romance, and I was definitely in the mood to read one! Not to mention the main character is a girl who loves to cook. A romance that has to do with food? I'm in!

Olivia has been going through the motions of life, working at the restaurants her dads (Yes, she has two) run while going to school. The summer before her senior year though, everything changes a
Kristina (Gone Pecan)
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, arc
Review can also be found at:

Source: ARC via Random House/Delcorte

Story Breakdown:

Olivia is just a normal teen trying to make it day-to-day. Then during the summer before her senior year things hit the fan. She’s unsure of what to do to prepare for her future, still thinking about ‘What if?’ with a former potential flame, her dad’s restaurant seems to be going under, and she’s been slowing thinking more and more about her birth mother. Over the course of
The Bookish Faerie
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Olivia, the main character and I would be great friends. For one, she's a foodie, a chef and she loves to cook. I'm a foodie, a chef in training and I'm a dessert gal, not so much on the cooking side. We will be the ying and yang. Secondly, her fashion style is like mine, so yep... Shopping trips in thrift stores and second hand shops! I really love the way this book is written 5 stars out of 5. I'm so glad I found this at the bookfair a few years ago, this book is one of my all time fav reads. ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I feel like this is another YA contemporary about which I hadn't heard much. Luckily that tends to work in my favor as I don't enter the book with expectations, instead being prepared to just enjoy whatever comes. What I did know was that this book would feature its protagonist cooking a lot, something that really pleased me. Unfortunately I kept wanting recipes and this book did not provide any. I feel like I am encouraged
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