Cover of Secret Recipe for Moving On: On a purple background, a whisk drips with pink frosting.

About the Book

Title: The Secret Recipe for Moving On
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Cover Story: Baked On
BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Disney Channel Original
Bonus Factors: Found Family, Home Economics
Relationship Status: Lunchroom Buddies

Cover Story: Baked On

This stock-photo cover art is pretty bland and feels too pastel for the story. (I don’t imagine a high-school Home Ec classroom that hasn’t been updated since the seventies, with avocado cabinets, as being very Instagram-cutesy.) What’s distracting me most is the fact that someone left that whisk out without cleaning it off right away and now that frosting is going to be a bitch and a half to get off.

The Deal:

Ellie’s family moved after her father’s restaurant was forced to close, so she hasn’t grown up with the people she’s been going to high school with over the last year. Which is all totally fine, until “out of nowhere” her boyfriend, Hunter, breaks up with her and immediately makes out with his childhood friend, Brynn, in the halls and everyone around them starts crowing, “OMG, I knew it! #couplegoals! ‘Bout time!” Ew.

Now she’s realizing all her “friends” were Hunter’s friends, which is going to make the “easy A” Home Economics class they all signed up for together super awkward. Things go from bad to worse when she is put in an all-male group with the school outcasts: Luke, a jock who practically looks like an adult; Isaiah, the quiet nerd who’s obsessed with horse racing; and, A.J., guy voted most likely to fly off the handle and punch someone. But people would probably classify Ellie as “that girl who tried to get between Hunter and Brynn’s burgeoning friends-to-lovers romance” so perhaps other people’s labels aren’t all they’re cracked up to be…

BFF Charm: Eventually


When you learn more about Ellie’s past, you can understand why she kind of glommed on to the first passably attractive, popular boy who looked her way. While she probably mooned over his basic ass for a little too long, I liked seeing her journey to personal growth throughout the novel. Ellie won’t be singlehandedly defeating The Man with a single arrow or anything, but her story is one that many teens will experience: learning to advocate for your own interests, understanding people are always more complex than they first appear, and that only you should define who you are.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

I feel like the book’s synopsis tries to play a little coy about who Ellie’s new love interest will be, but, like, immediately, we know it’s Luke, the tattooed BMXer. He starts off having an Olympic-wannabe snowboarding girlfriend, but he clearly ticks all the YA main love interest boxes. Ellie and Luke’s romance was cute and sweet. While it won’t knock anyone’s socks off—and also contains the dreaded “miscommunication” trope designed to keep them apart that raises some questions about Ellie’s long-term trust issues—I was fine with it.

Talky Talk: Disney Channel Original

I’ve had mixed results with books published under Swoon Reads, but somehow the promise of a good love story keeps sucking me back in, dammit. Luckily this book a success! I breezed through it in just a few hours and it gave me all the “PG-13 light-hearted life lessons” vibes I was expecting. Will I remember much about the plot in a few weeks? I can already tell you that’s a no, but I don’t regret reading it, and, sometimes, that’s enough.

Bonus Factor: Found Family

Characters Jen Jack and Grams from Dawson's Creek standing together

My favorite part focused on Ellie’s burgeoning friendship with the boys in her class “family” unit (they called themselves JAILE after their initials, which sounds exactly like what I’d expect a group of dudes to come up with). Luke and Ellie aside, I always like seeing positive representations of men and women supporting each other in platonic friendships.

Bonus Factor: Home Economics

Zack and Kelly wearing shirts that say "husband" and "wife" from Saved By the Bell.

This isn’t some lame Home Ec class, y’all. Each group is giving a family backstory and budget and have to spend the school year working on their assignments within those confines. I’m not sure what that necessarily teaches the group that’s representing, like, a DINK couple, but I’m always of the mind that all students from high school should graduate knowing how to balance a budget and the dangers of credit cards, so, teach on, Mrs. Sanchez!

Relationship Status: Lunchroom Buddies I won’t pretend our connection is that deep, Book, but if you’re ever standing awkwardly in the lunchroom, holding your tray and desperately scanning the tables for a nonjudgmental place to sit, just know there’s always a seat open next to me.

Literary Matchmaking

The Rest of the Story

Want your next read to focus on that childhood romance aspect with better people than Hunter and Brynn? Sarah Dessen’s The Rest of the Story may do it for you.

By the Book

For another sweet contemporary that I absolutely loved, check out Amanda Sellet’s By The Book.

Call It What You Want

If you’re looking for a contemporary that’s a little heavier and will tug at your heart, Brigid Kemmerer is one of my go-tos, and Call It What You Want is for you.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Swoon Reads. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. The Secret Recipe for Moving On is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.