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God Is in the Pancakes

God Is in the Pancakes

3.5 12
by Robin Epstein

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Fifteen-year-old Grace Manning is a candy striper in a nursing home, and Mr. Sands is the one patient who makes the job bearable. He keeps up with her sarcasm, teaches her to play poker . . . and one day cheerfully asks her to help him die. At first Grace says no way, but as Mr. Sands's disease progresses, she's not so sure. Grace tries to avoid the wrenching


Fifteen-year-old Grace Manning is a candy striper in a nursing home, and Mr. Sands is the one patient who makes the job bearable. He keeps up with her sarcasm, teaches her to play poker . . . and one day cheerfully asks her to help him die. At first Grace says no way, but as Mr. Sands's disease progresses, she's not so sure. Grace tries to avoid the wrenching decision by praying for a miracle, stuffing herself with pancakes, and running away from all feelings, including the new ones she has for her best friend Eric. But Mr. Sands is getting worse, and she can't avoid him forever.

Robin Epstein has delivered an incredibly engaging, thought-provoking debut YA novel, with all the snappy dialogue and attitude of the movie Juno.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Epstein's (the Groovy Girls series) powerful and poignant novel, her first for teenage readers, 10th-grader Grace narrates her exploration of life's conundrums as she faces difficult choices in every close relationship, some of which are literally a matter of life and death. Reeling from her father's sudden departure from their family and adulterous relationship with a church friend, Grace feels abandoned by him and by God, left to confront complex issues alone. Should she tell her older sister, Lolly, that Lolly's boyfriend is cheating? Can she support her overwhelmed and exhausted mother and ever speak to her father again? How should she cope with the new feelings she's having for her best friend, Eric? And most importantly, when the terminally ill Mr. Sands, her favorite patient at her after-school nursing home job, asks her to help him die, what is the moral response? Unsentimental but caring intergenerational relationships and spot-on adolescent banter provide humor and hope in this stellar addition to the coming-of-age genre, which offers neither judgments nor simplistic answers. Ages 12–up. (May)
Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
Grace's best memories of her father revolve around pancakes. It seems that whenever things got too hard for any of them to handle, Grace's dad would pull out the griddle and fry up pancakes. Gathered around the table together as a family, it seemed that any problem could be solved. So what is Grace to do her father leaves her mom for another woman? Nothing is as it should be. Grace's mom works long hours and never seems to be happy. Lolly, Grace's older sister, is completely infatuated with the high school jock. She and Jake talk for hours on the phone. Grace doesn't like Jake, but she is not quite sure why and certainly cannot explain it to Lolly. Grace's best friend Alex is trying out for the varsity basketball squad, even though he is only a freshman. Grace is finding it hard to be supportive, knowing that this will take away time that she has always had with Alex. She has always counted on the fact that whenever she needed him, he would be there. She does not necessarily like the changes. Her only safe place seems to be the nursing home where she volunteers in the afternoon after school. Her responsibilities include visiting with the patients, helping them with simple tasks and just being a friend. When Grace's favorite patient, Mr. Sands, asks her to help him with something he is unable to do himself, Grace finds life to be just too complicated. With intergenerational issues, discussions of quality of life and coming of age, this first young adult novel is packed with situations older teens will identify with. The characters are strong and believable. This is a great first effort for the author. Reviewer: Joyce Rice
Judith A. Hayn
Grace is 15, and her first job is as a candy striper in a nursing home. There, she connects with 84-year-old Frank Sands, who is dying from Lou Gehrig's disease. He stockpiles his pills and asks Grace to help him die. She loves the elderly man for sharing her quirky humor and teaching her to play poker, especially since her dad left home for another woman. She also grows to love and admire his wife Isabelle as she struggles with her decision. Using a breezy, authentic voice coupled with light-hearted humor, Epstein's first novel for teens should resonate with adolescent girls. Grace faces thoroughly believable complications as her feelings begin to change toward her best guy pal Eric; as they try to figure out their new relationship, life, faith, romance, and high school all intertwine symbolically, just like pancake bubbles. Reviewer: Judith A. Hayn
VOYA - Joyce Doyle
Grace is a candy striper at Hanover House retirement community, where she meets Mr. Sands, a resident in the constant care unit. But Mr. Sands has Lou Gehrig's disease, and his condition is rapidly deteriorating. One afternoon Mr. Sands asks Grace to help him die. When Grace's father left the family, she stopped going to church, but now Grace turns to God to help her decide what to do about Mr. Sands and the other things happening in her life, asking if it's okay to do something that's wrong if it's for the right reasons. Grace's budding friendship with Mrs. Sands helps her make sense of her relationships with the males in her life: her best friend, Eric, who may be more than a friend, her father who has left the family, and even Mr. Sands, who has become a father figure. While delving into morals and the belief in a god, this is not an overly religious book and could appeal to nonreligious readers. Epstein instead focuses on the search into what you believe, with the help of some comfort-food pancakes along the way. Grace is honest and speaks frankly—and readers will love her for it. Reviewer: Joyce Doyle
School Library Journal
Gr 8–10—Fifteen-year-old Grace's life is in turmoil following her father's abandonment of the family. She takes a part-time job as an aide in a nursing home and meets Mr. Sands, who is suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. They become friends and have fun together, but soon he gives Grace a packet of pills and asks her to help him die in this novel (Dial, 2010) by Robin Epstein. Grace learns about the disease and the pain Mr. Sands will suffer before he finally passes away. On top of this, Grace is facing changes in her relationship with family members and her best friend, Eric. Euthanasia is a serious topic and must be handled carefully. It seems somewhat unrealistic for an elderly man to ask a teenager he barely knows to assist in his suicide. Also, can Grace truly understand the ramifications of such an act? Part of what makes the scenario difficult to accept and somewhat jarring is the very youthful voice of Cassandra Morris who sounds more like a child of 10 or 11. Novels like Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral (HarperCollins, 2000), Ann Claire LeZotte's T4 (Houghton, Mifflin, 2008), or Lois Lowry's The Giver (Houghton, Mifflin 1993) might be better choices to begin a conversation about euthanasia.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen-year-old Grace is sure that most of life's problems can be solved by eating pancakes. They're what she eats when Mr. Sands, a resident of the nursing home where she works, asks her to kill him with an overdose of pills before he succumbs to ALS. Since Grace's father left, Mr. Sands has been her father figure. While Grace grapples with Mr. Sands's request, she's also facing new romantic feelings for her longtime best friend, Eric. Within her immediate family, she alone holds the secret about her sister's cheating boyfriend, and she misses her newly divorced father. As Mr. Sands's condition deteriorates, Grace knows that she has to make her decision, one that is further complicated by the relationship she has developed with Mr. Sand's wife. Pancakes as a metaphor may be a new idea, but here it comes across as silly rather than philosophical. Too many plotlines get tangled, and their resolutions are largely dissatisfying. With a tighter focus on the plot and less obvious symbolism, the fluid dialogue and sassy side of Grace's personality would shine. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Robin Epstein is an author, stand-up comic and former sitcom writer. A contributor to NPR’s This American Life, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, Real Simple and Glamour, among others.

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God Is in the Pancakes 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
GailGGG More than 1 year ago
You know how sometimes a book just pulls you in from the very first page?Well that's exactly how I felt when I started reading God Is In The Pancakes. It's AMAZING!!! The dialog is really good and funny (you can just picture it as a movie), the main character is someone I'd want to be friends with and I was literally laughing and crying at different points. The book's plot features a really controversial subject -- euthanasia -- but I really liked the way the author handled it and made me consider what I'd do if I were in this situation. This is just one of those books you can't stop thinking about, and I can't recommend it highly enough. FIVE +++ stars!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great delightful read
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
15-year-old Grace is having a hard time pulling her life together. Her sister's boyfriend is two-timing her and she wants to have sex with him; Grace's parents' divorce is taking a toll on the family; her father is trying to get in contact with her; and Grace's guy friend is kind of becoming a boyfriend. It's no wonder that her job as a Candy Striper at Hanover House is something she enjoys so much. While there, she meets an older gentleman named Mr. Sands with Lou Gehrig's Disease. He teaches her to play poker and becomes like a surrogate father to her. When her friend's health goes drastically downhill, Grace finds herself spending more and more time with Mr. Sands, as well as with his wife. When faced with a difficult request to help him die, Grace is aghast and uncertain of what to do. Will she get her life straightened out? Will she reconnect with her real father? Will she tell her sister that her boyfriend's cheating on her? What will Grace decide to do about Mr. Sands? A touching story about a caring young woman who has some difficult situations to deal with in life. The characters are well-developed and likable. The plot is slower-paced but keeps you interested. Readers who like realistic fiction and heartwarming novels will enjoy reading GOD IS IN THE PANCAKES.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This title sounds really offensive to God
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why would GOD be in my pancakes??????