Title: Salty, Bitter, Sweet
Author: Mayra Ceuvas
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Publisher: YA Blink
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Source: Physical copy provided by publisher & TLC Book Tours
Salty, Bitter, Sweet is a lushly told story about Isabella, a girl coping with the loss of the life she knew by throwing herself into her passion: cooking. Isabella’s beloved abuela has passed away and her mother and father are divorced. Though she was raised most of her life in Chicago and summers on her abuela’s farm in Kansas, she’s now living with her father and his new pregnant wife on a cherry farm in France. She has earned a spot in a coveted cooking class with a world renowned chef and throws herself into being the best chef she can be. But then she meets Diego, her new step-mother’s step-son from a previous marriage (no, it’s not her step-brother!). Diego teachers her to slow down and enjoy her life a little more, but Isabella has to wrestle with whether this is what she wants, or if she prefers the high stress kitchen of the famous chefs.
I really enjoyed this story, though I have to admit, I was hungry the entire time. Mayra Cuevas has a wonderful way of describing all the decadent food Isabella is cooking and experiencing. It definitely made me want to travel and experience all of the different foods Isabella tries throughout her journey.
I have to admit, my only knowledge of high dinning comes from religiously watching the Food Network for years. I love watching people cook and learning new techniques, but I am no chef. I did feel a kinship with Isabella however, in that I love cooking for people and seeing the happiness of people coming together over a meal. And I had no idea how insanely competitive it really is at the top, especially for someone so young. I enjoyed watching Isabella’s arc as she decides what it is that really drives her and what she wants to do with her future.
Overall, if you enjoy food, YA contemporary, and a little bit of romance, I would definitely suggest picking up a copy of Salty, Bitter, Sweet!
Thank you so much to Blink and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book!
“‘But life is like that, mija. You make all these plans, you have all these dreams, and things don’t always work out the way you planned.’ She reached for my hand and held it in hers. Her paper-thin skin was soft and warm and somehow capable of passing on every bit of love she felt for me. ‘I want you to know this uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes everything needs to fall apart so we can find the life we are meant to live. ¿Me entiendes?'”
-Mayra Cuevas, Salty, Bitter, Sweet
Synopsis: 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?
Mayra Cuevas: Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Mayra Cuevas is a professional journalist and fiction writer who adores love stories with happy endings. Her debut fiction short story was selected by Becky Albertalli as a New Voice in the Foreshadow YA serial anthology in 2019. She is a TV and digital producer for CNN, where she has worked since 2003. She keeps her sanity by practicing Buddhist meditation and serves on the Board of Directors of Kadampa Meditation Center Georgia. She lives in the colorful town of Norcross, Georgia with her husband, also a CNN journalist, and their cat, Felicia. She is the wicked step-mom to two amazing young men who provide plenty of inspiration for her stories.
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