I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas
Published by Blink YA on March 3, 2020
Genres: YA Contemporary
Source: the publisher
“Happiness, like love, arrives through the kitchen. At least that’s what my abuela Lala used to say. I may not know much about love, but I definitely got the kitchen part down.”
Seventeen-year-old aspiring chef Isabella Fields’ family life has fallen apart after the death of her Cuban abuela and the divorce of her parents. She moves in with her dad and his new wife in France, where Isabella feels like an outsider in her father’s new life, studiously avoiding the awkward, “Why did you cheat on Mom?” conversation.
The upside of Isabella’s world being turned upside down? Her father’s house is located only 30 minutes away from the restaurant of world-famous Chef Pascal Grattard, who runs a prestigious and competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isabella, who is desperate to get her life back in order.
But how can Isabella expect to hold it together when she’s at the bottom of her class at the apprenticeship, her new stepmom is pregnant, she misses her abuela dearly, and a mysterious new guy and his albino dog fall into her life?
Salty, Bitter, Sweet:- Is a YA contemporary #OwnVoices novel written by CNN producer Mayra Cuevas- Features a Latina main character who is trilingual- Is inspired by the author’s relationships with food and family- Explores complicated family dynamics and relatable themes of friendship, acceptance, and learning to care for yourself
So honestly, I really adored this book! It was such an easy read, I mean I couldn’t stop turning pages. And with no page numbers in the ARC, I was unsure if that would make it seem like it took longer to read, like e-books do when they don’t have page numbers, but it didn’t. I flew through this book, even though it is over 300 pages long. The characters were really a lot of fun, I loved Isa especially. I guess it is totally possible that one thing that I loved about the book was that parts of it were kind of set in Wyandotte County in Kansas, which is where the school I work at is located. Isa’s grandma, or Lala as she called her because she had trouble pronouncing abuela as a child, lived there. Of course, all of the little tidbits that made me smile for that part of the world definitely caused this to have a special place in my heart. But it really wasn’t just that.
Most of the story actually takes place in France, so that made for some interesting cuisines! All of the different food was mouth-watering to read about. Well, except for some gross sounding foods. But all the pastries and the different recipes she tried not only for her cooking class, but also just for her family, made me hungry as I was reading.
I also really enjoyed reading the parts about what it was like when Isa got the chance to actually work in the kitchen as they prepared for a big guest for their master chef’s restaurant. I liked how Isa was stressed and didn’t enjoy all of it, while the other girl did, and then the know-it-all boy had his own interesting experience as well. It was great to see all the different people and situations that helped Isa realize whether this cooking was truly her dream and future, or if maybe she wanted something a bit different.
There was definitely parts in the story that showed just how much a chef’s world is still a man’s world for the most part, even as so often women are expected to be the ones to do all the cooking in the home. The romance was just enough for the story, the family drama was good, although maybe a bit much at times, however it did work out perfectly in the end in a way that I think wrapped up the story perfectly.
I definitely recommend this one and can’t wait to buy a finished copy to put in my school library to share with my students, who live and go to school in Wyandotte County, Kansas.