By Laekan Zea Kemp
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Print Length: 384 pages
Release Year: 2021
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Special thanks to HearOurVoicesBT for providing me with an ARC and allowing me to participate in this tour.
As an aspiring pastry chef, Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans — leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican-American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she’s been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho’s who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she’s been too afraid to ask herself.
Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho’s is an opportunity for just that — a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his new found family and himself.
Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong — both within their families and their fiercely loyal Chicanx community — in order to save the place they all call home. (Goodreads)
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is yet again another one of those books I wish I had when I was younger. While it’s a considerably short and easy read it still manages to be stock full of hard-hitting and relatable topics and representation of a culture and lifestyle I’m intimately familiar with. Kemp presents this concept in a way that is undeniably relatable to those who have lived similar lives while also managing to write a book that can reach a much wider audience– opening the door for others to learn about life in the chicanx community and the struggles that come from being an immigrant.
The book includes two characters with considerably different circumstances but a similar outlook on life. The book deals with issues ranging from the struggles of being a young undocumented immigrant to finding the courage to follow your dreams at the expense of your parents. Both come with hard expectations the characters must overcome ultimately making this a very emotional read.
I often saw myself and people I know in the characters of this book. The sense of familiarity making it a definite comfort read. I imagine this book will be so for many people, and I hope it manages to reach all that deserve it. I recommend this book to everyone, especially those going through similar struggles. This book makes you feel seen in such a beautiful way.