Book Reviews

Review: Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success by Jessica Parra

If you love the idea of baking competitions and first loves, then you have to read Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success. This YA contemporary debut is a heartfelt story celebrating the importance of family, decisions, and dreams. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Graduation is only a few months away, and so far Rubi Ramos’s recipe for success is on track.

*Step 1: Get into the prestigious Alma University.

*Step 2: Become incredibly successful lawyer.

But when Alma waitlists Rubi’s application, her plan is in jeopardy. Her parents–especially her mom, AKA the boss–have wanted this for her for years. In order to get off the waitlist without her parents knowing, she needs math tutoring from surfer-hottie math genius Ryan, lead the debate team to a championship–and remember the final step of the recipe.

*Step 3: Never break the ban on baking.

Rubi has always been obsessed with baking, daydreaming up new concoctions and taking shifts at her parents’ celebrated bakery. But her mother dismisses baking as a distraction–her parents didn’t leave Cuba so she could bake just like them.

But some recipes are begging to be tampered with…

When the First Annual Bake Off comes to town, Rubi’s passion for baking goes from subtle simmer to full boil. She’s not sure if she has what it takes to become OC’s best amateur baker, and there’s only one way to find out–even though it means rejecting the ban on baking, and by extension, her parents. But life is what you bake it, and now Rubi must differentiate between the responsibility of unfulfilled dreams she holds, and finding the path she’s meant for.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success is about what we think our plan for success will be. The check boxes we think we need to fulfill in order to be successful. It’s about us determining what success means to us. But that recipe doesn’t work for everyone. For Rubi her success has been a plan, a recipe, her mother and father have invested in, given up dreams, and worked day and night for her to have these chances.

So when Rubi’s own plans, her own additions to the recipe, put the final product in jeopardy it spells disaster for her success. Or does it? What I love is that Parra is able to combine the idea of success and baking. The concept of the recipe for success as a metaphor not only works because it is a phrase we hear in our lives, but also succeeds in the ways that a recipe doesn’t work for everyone, for each time. Sometimes the humidity is off, or sometimes an ingredient has to be changed. A recipe is never set in stone.

Rubi as our MC

Continuing with this metaphor, Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success is a heartfelt story about struggling to figure out what success means to us and how we go about it. It seems easy, but the whole world has opinions of what success means and should look like. And so for marginalized voices who have largely been left out of these images of success, our versions of success seem to carry more weight. We have the pressures of representation, of the sacrifices our parents have made for us, and more all on our shoulders. And for Rubi, this book is about her navigating these choppy waters.

I loved listening to Karla Serrato narrate Rubi’s thoughts and feelings. You can feel how torn Rubi is from trying to balance everything, from the weight of having to hide her dreams. It made listening to Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success fly by because of how invested this narration made me feel in Rubi’s character. Parra’s debut asks us what we will do for what we think we need. It’s a story grounded in Rubi’s experience as a BIPOC teen, for the ways she has to fight microaggressions and tokenization, stereotypes and weighted scales.


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Torn between the hyphens in her lives, the pieces of her that want to shine, Rubi’s story is heartfelt from beginning to end. Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success becomes about embracing the pieces of our identity and our passions. Find Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, Blackwells, &


Who is your favorite YA baker?

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