Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs

For some, those “carefree” days of high school are not so carefree or blissful. Not everyone fits into those tightly defined categories that seem to rule the social structures of just about every high school in America. For some of those kids, the KY Governor’s Scholars Program (affectionately referred to as Geek Camp) can be a real godsend, a place for bright, geeky kids to meet other bright, geeky kids. And that is what Sarah Combs’s debut novel, Breakfast Served Anytime explores.

Gloria is a rising senior that lives in Louisville with her single dad, and is still bruised and tender after the recent death of her grandmother. She has one good friend, Carol, who, like Gloria, longs for a career in the performing arts. They have a plan – graduate from high school and get as far away from KY as possible, preferably to New York City where Carol can study dance and Gloria will pursue acting. Except for her friendship with Carol, Gloria prefers her own company and great books for companionship. How will she fare with her Geek Camp roommate Jessica, a bubbly motor mouth from eastern KY? And Jessica’s best friend, Sonya, the striking beauty who dates the state high school basketball star? Gloria is a sophisticated, progressive thinking city girl. What, she wonders, does she have in common with these bumpkins, these Barbie dolls, that grew up in the coal mines?

And then there is her literature class, a very small group of just four students who agreed to unplug from all communication devices for the duration of the camp. Each student is unique and has had his/her own trouble navigating the unfriendly waters of their respective high schools. Most annoying is the arrogant and showy Mason, who insists on wearing a stupid top hat and pretending to be the Mad Hatter. Why does she get so warm and fluttery around such an irritating guy?

This is a novel of discovery, about the widening of one’s world when one encounters those who are different in an environment that supports and celebrates differences. Gloria and Jessica get into an unpleasant argument about mountain top removal and the role of coal mining in the economic survival of eastern KY. As a result, Gloria’s thinking becomes broader and more nuanced on issues about which she thought she already possessed full knowledge. There is no attempt to resolve or even deeply explore these complex issues, but all the characters allow their minds to be opened to new ways of seeing and thinking about them.

This lovely novel, full of beautiful prose and fully formed characters, will be especially fun for those who have attended or hope to attend Governor’s Scholars, or anyone who lives in Kentucky. This reader hopes that Sarah Combs will be serving up some seconds in the very near future!

Lexington KY author Sarah Combs

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I have spent the last ten years working with teenagers at my public library. When I started this job, I thought it might be a good idea to read some young adult lit, you know, so I could like…relate. As the mother of young teenagers, I have to admit that at first, it was shock and awe. One of the first YA novels I read involved a teenage anorexic girl who finds healing in an incestuous relationship – it did not go down well. (I do feel empathy for the parents who come to me complaining about the content of some of the books, but I try to encourage them to read more and read deeply. And I am happy to say that we have never, in my years at this library, removed a book from the teen area due to a complaint.) But now, hundreds of books into my exploration of teen lit, I can say I really love the genre.
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