Salty, Bitter, Sweet
“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

Salty, Bitter, Sweet Details

TitleSalty, Bitter, Sweet
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherBlink
ISBN-139780310769774
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary

Salty, Bitter, Sweet Review

  • Fadwa (Word Wonders)
    January 1, 1970
    CW: colorism, death of a relative from hepatitis, grief, ableism (especially in regards to addiction). DNF @ 40%Even though I promised myself last year that I will be more liberal with DNFing books I am not liking, here I am still feeling bad about doing it but at least, I'm getting better at it, right? SALTY BITTER SWEET sounds amazing on paper, a book about a French-Cuban American girl who is trilingual, passionate about cooking and wants to make a career out of it, who also faces complicated CW: colorism, death of a relative from hepatitis, grief, ableism (especially in regards to addiction). DNF @ 40%Even though I promised myself last year that I will be more liberal with DNFing books I am not liking, here I am still feeling bad about doing it but at least, I'm getting better at it, right? SALTY BITTER SWEET sounds amazing on paper, a book about a French-Cuban American girl who is trilingual, passionate about cooking and wants to make a career out of it, who also faces complicated a fresh parental divorce, complicated family dynamics and grief over her grandma's passing, when said grandma was the center of her world. On paper. But the execution of it all left a lot to be desired, at least in the 40% that I read before I gave so bare in my mind that this is a review strictly of what I read and not of the entire book as I don't know what happens later on.SALTY BITTER SWEET does have some positives to it. Although the story didn't really manage to grip me in the beginning, I chalked that out to it not being written for me as I'm not a teenager and have been recently growing out of YA contemporary, so I didn't really fault it for that, I could still see everything that it did well. First is all the cooking parts had me salivating, so much focus on the kitchen and our main character being laser focus on her passion and getting into an apprenticeship that would open up many many doors for her, while I could also see that her focus didn't solely stem from passion but it also also a way for Isa to escape her dysfunctional family dynamics, with a father who seems to have done a 180 on everything that made her the man she grew up around her whole life, a stepmom who barely acknowledges her existence and seems to dislike everything she does, and a boy, Diego, who is making it all worse. To top it all off, this whole family is very dismissive of her endeavors that they don't take seriously and downright undermine at times. I saw a few reviews say that the romance is ~taboo~ because a stepbrother/sister romance but I'll have to disagree. Diego is the son of Isa's stepmom's ex-husband. So he's not even related to her, let alone to Isa? And they didn't grow up together nor know of each other's existence until the book started. So you'll have to excuse me if I think that's a bit of a stretch. And I say this as someone who wasn't really fan of the romance in the bit that's I've read, not only because it was barely budding when I stopped reading but also because they're mutually assholes to each other. Isa dislikes him right off the bat for no real reason but then he starts hindering her kitchen progress and not really taking her hurt seriously. All of this is fine as I might have continued reading but then a couple things made me stop: - There was this passage where the main character encounters people struggling with addiction (not saying how or where because spoilers), but although there are a few of them but the only one whose race is pointed out is the Black man in a way where the MC thought to herself "I can't believe that Bubba, the sweet Black man I've known for so long had an addiction problem too", and this rubbed me the wrong way for two reasons. 1/ Addiction doesn't have a "look" to it, there isn't one type of person that struggles with it, so the fact that she's shocked "a sweet man" struggles with it is...not it. 2/ Why was it necessary to have the Black man's race pointed out when no one else's was? it didn't bring anything to the story and enforces stereotypes. I shrugged this off on account of it being such a fleeting minor part of the story, but then a trope I despise showed up.- Isa suffers from the "Not like other girls" syndrome. There were bits and pieces of it sprinkled in the beginning but nothing to make me think that the book would go all out with the cliché but then this quote happened and I just needed to cut my loses especially since I wasn't really invested in the story to begin with:Once I entered high school, the pretty girls were so predictable, daubing on lip gloss in the bathroom mirror or styling their hair with a curling iron until it has the "messy-after-sex" look. I never knew what they meant, And what's so special about using lipgloss and curling irons? Ask any of them to make the perfect lemon zest whipped cream and they would probably go to the stopre and get a tub of Cool Whip, an artificial imitationIn 2020? really? it's great to be passionate about cooking, and it's also great to like makeup, but flash news, some people also like both?? Like I said I didn't read enough to see if the MC grows and changes her ways so I don't know if this is a pattern throughout the whole book. I saw a couple reviews say that the second half is much better which I sincerely hope is true because this book has some potential to be a teaching moment for the MC and have a really great character growth ARC, but I'm sadly not invested enough to push through the things I disliked to find out.
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  • Carolina
    January 1, 1970
    *sigh* i have a lot of thoughts and not many of them are good :'/update: dropping down my rating to 2, cause the mere thought of this book makes me boil.
  • Book Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I got a free copy of the eArc of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.Rating: it's okay, would suggest borrowing from the library.While I enjoyed Salty, Bitter, Sweet overall, the book sends mixed messages that I personally did not agree with. I also did not enjoy the stepbrother / sister romance and would have passed this book by if the summary had been more clear about it. The book explores the world of professional French kitchens, with a mixed-nationality main Disclaimer: I got a free copy of the eArc of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.Rating: it's okay, would suggest borrowing from the library.While I enjoyed Salty, Bitter, Sweet overall, the book sends mixed messages that I personally did not agree with. I also did not enjoy the stepbrother / sister romance and would have passed this book by if the summary had been more clear about it. The book explores the world of professional French kitchens, with a mixed-nationality main character, and a dollop of a somewhat taboo romance. I guess one thing I enjoyed about the book is that it's fairly realistic. Cuevas doesn't gloss over things and doesn't make things easy for the main character, but I feel like she didn't always address things she brought up properly. (view spoiler)[ I liked the main character Isa - for the most part. She's smart, hard-working, and driven but she has a "I'm not like the other girls" personality even though she claims to be a die hard feminist. She shames her friend Lucia for her drunken and flirty behavior multiple times, which is certainly not feminist. Plus, other female characters often brought out a catty attitude, but towards each other - instead of their actual foes. Her step-mother ignores her and refuses to try any of her food - which is explained as a pregnancy thing - but the two women never really interact and it's never really fully explained. In fact, I don't think there was a single scene where the two actually interacted together. I would chuck it up to loyalty to her mother, except Isa makes a point to try to develop a relationship with her, only to be brushed off. Not to mention, the only scene we get with Isa's mother and her grandmother, is where the two act vaguely racist about Isa's dark skin and she calls them colorist. Their interaction is further spoiled by the fact that both older women just complain about Isa's cheating father (more on that later!). And that's it. Isa's mother and her grandmother are sort of forgotten after that, and only mentioned again in the passing. The scene that pissed me off the most however was Isa's interaction with her teacher Chef Troissant - who punishes Isa for a bad judgment call by forcing her to eat a dish that makes her shit herself, and there is an instance where she makes Isa drink alcohol and gets her drunk - even though she's underaged by American standards - but I can't imagine it would be okay for a teacher to get their student drunk by French standards either. This is never called out in text. Which is bad. I mean, most of the adults in this book are complete and utter assholes. Her Dad is a cheater, poor Isa caught him having an affair, and it's heavily implied that he got his mistress pregnant which is what forced him to leave his wife and child, "because it was the right thing to do". Okay, asshole, for who? The wife you blindsided or your daughter who you abandoned? The book does deal with this a little bit, but since her dad isn't a bad father, Isa does end up forgiving him eventually (which makes me feel even worse for her mom who is not even mentioned at the end of the book). The only nice person in the book is Isa's paternal grandmother who was an angel... or is, since she died. I wouldn't say that's unrealistic, especially considering that the professional cooking scene is said to be chock full of abuse and high stakes stress, which gets me to the part of the review where I explain why I rated this book so lowly and ended up disliking for the most part. Okay, this book seemed to scream "ambition is bad, huge success is bad, and being famous is going to make you evil, hate yourself, and betray your friends and family." What Isa wants most is to become a world famous, Michelin level Chef. Which is ambitious and honestly a fantastic goal to have. We need more women in the professional kitchen environment - which is unfortunately often dismissive and even abusive towards women. Isa works incredibly hard to perfect her cooking, wins a prestigious apprenticeship (which honestly was styled more like a competition) with a promise a position in the world famous Chef's kitchen. Which is why I found it really weird that instead of encouraging Isa towards her goals, the book sort of does the opposite. It shows her how ugly the world of professional cooking is, how unhappy these kitchens are, how awful these famous Chefs are, and there are multiple characters who are all "why would you ever want this? it's awful. You should want the simple things in life!" And I mean, it's not necessarily untrue... but the thing is... it's the same everywhere. This is sort of exemplified by her step-brother (or love interest), who quits the life plan that his father thought out for him, even though he loved it and was extremely successful at it, to discover what he really enjoys and wants to do with his life - which is actually great. So why does Isa, who loves cooking, wants to be a professional cook, and works so hard to reach her goals - on her own - gets the ugly side of things? To the point where she even sabotages her own test, so she can go work elsewhere. I mean... is she supposed to be more like paternal grandmother Lala, who got taken advantage off and acted like a doormat, and died because she contracted a disease from people she was trying to help? I feel like the message that Cuevas was trying to send was "ambition and hard work is good, just don't lose your way and let success twist you into someone who hurts people to win". But honestly, what I got was "ambition is bad and success will turn you into a monster, so work hard, but not too hard, just do things you like and enjoy what you have and be nice to people." I mean, humility is good and all, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be ambitious or want success. The last thing to mention, I suppose is the romance in this book. I do not like step brother / sister romances. I think it's weird to fall in love with a person who is technically your sibling even if you're not related to them. The second it was discovered he was her step-brother, that's all I could focus on, that she was falling in love with her brother... which was ... icky... but like, Isa never thinks twice about it, and the relationship is mostly kept between themselves, so other characters don't get the chance to respond... so I wonder if Cuevas just didn't know how to handle it. I know some people like these kind of 'forbidden' romances, but I feel like it was really out of place. Though I should mention, that I didn't mind the actual relationship the two had, it was nicely paced and they had some chemistry. My one wish for this book is that Isa was a little bit more inspired by her Cuban grandmother Lala in the kitchen. There was a huge emphasis on their relationship, and Lala was the person who got Isa interested in cooking, taught her most of what she knows, and passed down her recipes to her. However, besides apple pie (which isn't Cuban), Lala never really makes any of her grandmothers recipes or anything Cuban. Most of her cooking is inspired by her French heritage, and considering her main focus is French cuisine it makes sense. But I just wish there was a bit more Cuban kitchen inspiration as well. So overall, I didn't hate reading the book, but I disliked it for the characters and the mixed messages it was sending. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Kita
    January 1, 1970
    For me, Salty, Bitter, Sweet was a book of two halves. The bad news: one half is not that great. The good news: the other half is uplifting, life-affirming, inspiring and has stayed with me after finishing. So if you can push through a lacklustre and slightly infuriating first half, you’re in for a real treat.The book spans a three week time period, during which Isabella (Isa) undertakes a punishing apprenticeship in a Michelin starred kitchen, meets her new step-mother’s ex-step-son, and For me, Salty, Bitter, Sweet was a book of two halves. The bad news: one half is not that great. The good news: the other half is uplifting, life-affirming, inspiring and has stayed with me after finishing. So if you can push through a lacklustre and slightly infuriating first half, you’re in for a real treat.The book spans a three week time period, during which Isabella (Isa) undertakes a punishing apprenticeship in a Michelin starred kitchen, meets her new step-mother’s ex-step-son, and reflects on her family and her future. Isa is a fantastic main character – passionate and driven, but occasionally blinkered by her own excellence when it comes to her relationships with others. Her history and her personality are fleshed out fantastically throughout the book. I want to date her, I want to be her friend, I want her to be my sister. Isa is fantastic.But the extent of my love for Isa is also one of the reasons I found the first half of this book quite difficult. I don’t want to delve too deeply into spoiler-territory, but until about that midpoint almost everyone seems completely awful to Isa. I’m not insensitive to the way her kitchen-focus could alienate her from those around her, but the casual cruelty with which her family seem to treat both her and her lifelong dream is jarring. It’s possible that this is intentional on Cuevas’ part, highlighting the difficulties that arise when families merge. But while I felt this teething-problems type struggle with her father and step-mother, the love interest, Diego, spends the first part of the book being really quite unlikeable. He is all but openly derisive of her passion for haute cuisine and takes up a huge amount of emotional and physical space right of the bat. Isa’s attraction to him is initially confusing, given the way he treats her.But the Diego of the second half of the story is a very different creature. Sensitive and thoughtful, using his own history to open a dialogue with Isa instead of insisting his experiences can be extrapolated universally, he becomes a much more compelling romantic lead.However, the true stars in this story are the other women Isa meets as part of her apprenticeship – two fellow hopefuls and a chef. The book explores the way i which life in a top kitchen can be difficult for women than it is for men, and gives opportunities for Isa to both fail and succeed in supporting other women in a stressful profession. Isa’s relationship with her abuela – Lala – told through memories and flashbacks is also of note: this is a relationship that is very much alive, and colours everything Isa does. Lala reminds me a little of my wonderful Italian aunt Marina – not so much into the baking, but very much into the power of food as love and pressing it urgently on anyone close by. The history of Isa’s family that unspools throughout the story adds another dimension, running parallel to the stresses of a professional kitchen.I love cooking but am no expert, so I loved the kitchen scenes in this book but can’t speak to how accurate they may be! The blend of cultures and languages, from Cuban home cooking to French haute cuisine, really make the book come alive. Isa’s own journey through the professional kitchen she finds herself in is interesting, exciting and well-paced. Unfortunately, the stop-start romance and changeable romantic lead mean that the romance plot is not as good as the kitchen plot. However, the blend well towards the end and the story is ultimately a very heartwarming, inspirational and fulfilling one. This is also a book I feel like I could talk about at length – I would love to bring it to a book club or sit down and really get into it with a fellow reader, which isn’t something I always feel!As a bit of a foodie and someone struggling with their own thoughts about their future and career, I really enjoyed this book and will probably pick up a hard copy when it comes out. It’s also reinspired my passion for baking, which can never be a bad thing! However, the nature of the first half has to affect my rating. I also think that if you’re not someone who has at least a passing interest in food, or kitchen reality shows, you may struggle with some of this book. But the setting is vibrant and lovely throughout, bringing the French countrysides and markets to life, and Isa’s own attitude, heritage and passions will make her a character I won’t forget in a very long time.See my other reviews at my blog: https://blackcatreadz.wordpress.com/
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    In Salty, Bitter, Sweet, seventeen-year-old Isabella Fields is trying to move forward after her abuela’s death and her parent’s divorce, particularly the part where her dad cheated on her mom, remarried, and has a new baby on the way. She’s spending the summer with her father, though, because of his proximity to a summer apprenticeship she’s attending. To make matters more complicated, her new stepmother’s former stepson shows up unannounced and moves in…and he is HOT. This set-up would make for In Salty, Bitter, Sweet, seventeen-year-old Isabella Fields is trying to move forward after her abuela’s death and her parent’s divorce, particularly the part where her dad cheated on her mom, remarried, and has a new baby on the way. She’s spending the summer with her father, though, because of his proximity to a summer apprenticeship she’s attending. To make matters more complicated, her new stepmother’s former stepson shows up unannounced and moves in…and he is HOT. This set-up would make for an enjoyable Young Adult novel, with real life issues and the possibility of a summer romance, but debut author Mayra Cuevas kicks the story up a notch by setting it in France, where Isa is competing for a prestigious internship with a top French chef. With all of the stress in Isa’s life, will she manage to impress her teachers, or will it all be bloody knives and flaming stove-tops? This #OwnVoices novel is a great option for contemporary YA readers and budding chefs and foodies (a novel hasn’t made me this hungry since Maurene Goo’s The Way You Make Me Feel).
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  • Melhara
    January 1, 1970
    Anyone who loves reading YA novels and who also enjoys watching Top Chef, MasterChef, Chopped, Hell's Kitchen, or any kind of cooking show will like this book. I know I did!Isabella loves to cook and dreams of becoming a Michelin-star chef. Her culinary skills scored her a spot in the prestigious summer cooking program with world renown Michelin-star Chef Grattard. The student who scores the highest marks in this program will win an apprenticeship with Chef Grattard and work alongside him at his Anyone who loves reading YA novels and who also enjoys watching Top Chef, MasterChef, Chopped, Hell's Kitchen, or any kind of cooking show will like this book. I know I did!Isabella loves to cook and dreams of becoming a Michelin-star chef. Her culinary skills scored her a spot in the prestigious summer cooking program with world renown Michelin-star Chef Grattard. The student who scores the highest marks in this program will win an apprenticeship with Chef Grattard and work alongside him at his Michelin-star restaurant! This would be a dream-come-true for Isabella and she would stop at nothing to ensure her place at the top of the class.There were so many things that I liked about this book. I loved the diversity - Isabella is Cuban-French-American who doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere. This is something I could completely relate to as a Chinese-Swiss-Canadian."...I come from divergent worlds while not wholly belonging to any of them. Never Cuban enough, or French enough, or American enough - that's me, a dissonant three-course meal."Other diverse characters include her friends Pippa, an African-British girl, Lucia, a Catalan girl from Barcelona, and Diego the Spaniard from Barcelona. Diversity aside, I also loved the character development. Isabella started off being kind of a loner with laser-like focus on achieving her dreams of one day becoming a Michelin-star chef. She has incredibly high standards and little patience for anything that might get in her way. To be honest, she wasn't very likable at first. But she eventually grew on me. Her passion for food and culinary arts was depicted very realistically (I would know, my entire family works for the restaurant industry!) The only thing that really bugged me about this book was the romance. I didn't feel it was necessary and definitely not with Diego (it's a very strange family dynamic bordering on the taboo - he's her step-mother's step-son from a previous marriage). If anything, I think I would've preferred if a romance developed in the kitchen instead (perhaps with Snake Eyes?) Overall, I really enjoyed this book with all of it's mouthwatering descriptions of food!I received and eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*** #40 of my 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge - Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Challenge - 2019 Challenge: A book with a title that contains "salty," "sweet," "bitter," or "spicy" ***
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    If you like With the Fire on High or ANY cooking show this book is for you. I am no chef (I barely make pasta and eggs) but the visual explanation of the prep and execution of meals literally had my mouth watering. It makes me want to learn how to cook! I love the family dynamic it is just complex as real life but with a hint of hope. The divorce representation was good, I only wish to have seen the mother possibly find happiness as the father did. As a Cuban/African-American having an Abuela If you like With the Fire on High or ANY cooking show this book is for you. I am no chef (I barely make pasta and eggs) but the visual explanation of the prep and execution of meals literally had my mouth watering. It makes me want to learn how to cook! I love the family dynamic it is just complex as real life but with a hint of hope. The divorce representation was good, I only wish to have seen the mother possibly find happiness as the father did. As a Cuban/African-American having an Abuela who fills the kitchen with love is so heartwarming. The women's friendships were AMAZING! Pippa, Lucia and Chef Troissant were all strong independent women doing what they love. All the characters, no matter how small, had so much heart and passion. I particularly enjoyed the presence of a young five year old boy who enjoyed Isa's cooking. Each character had so much history and depth.The only thing that bothers me a little was that the romance between Isa and Diego felt too easy. In the beginning, there was so much tension. I would have loved if the two of them opened up to each other in either a slower process or not have forgiven that tension so quickly. Being vulnerable is a huge thing and having a first love can be as messy as the family drama. But it is nice that love was not the main focus. Overall the exploration of all these people, all different ages and backgrounds, trying to discover what fulfills them is hands down the most beautiful part of this book. I enjoyed that this book makes us question our need to succeed and be the best, rather than focus on finding what makes us happy and doing that. I would recommend this to everyone!
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  • JustYourFriendlyReader
    January 1, 1970
    Sweet, warm and friendly, this book tells about a teenage girl striving for her dream of workingin a professional kitchen. For three weeks, she is part of an intensive course in the restaurant of a famous French chef. At the end of the course, one participant will win a coveted apprenticeship. Alng the way, Isabella must deal with her new stepmother, her grief over her grandmother, her relationship with her father after his affair and subsequent divorce for Isabella's mother. And the infuriating Sweet, warm and friendly, this book tells about a teenage girl striving for her dream of workingin a professional kitchen. For three weeks, she is part of an intensive course in the restaurant of a famous French chef. At the end of the course, one participant will win a coveted apprenticeship. Alng the way, Isabella must deal with her new stepmother, her grief over her grandmother, her relationship with her father after his affair and subsequent divorce for Isabella's mother. And the infuriating Diego. This is a novel about dreams, ambitions, and family, and about figuring out if what you think you want, is what you really want. It focuses a lot on the characters, and how they interact, which is something I personally enjoy in books. I would have liked it if the secondary characters had been a bit more fleshed out, but that's difficult in a first-person narrative. Overall, I found this to be a very good coming-of-age book, and thoruoghly enjoyed the food and cooking focus.#SaltyBitterSweet #NetGalley
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  • Rhiannon
    January 1, 1970
    Isa is a chef. She can cook up a storm and she’s even won a spot at a prestigious restarurant for a special summer school. All is not what it seems though, Isa’a life is far from perfect, her dads new girlfriend seems to hate her and now Diego has turned up and everything seems to be going wrong.Salty, Bitter, Sweet follows Isa through her summer school as she learns what she wants from life and finally learns how to move on from the death of a loved one.I found this book so sweet, it reminded Isa is a chef. She can cook up a storm and she’s even won a spot at a prestigious restarurant for a special summer school. All is not what it seems though, Isa’a life is far from perfect, her dads new girlfriend seems to hate her and now Diego has turned up and everything seems to be going wrong.Salty, Bitter, Sweet follows Isa through her summer school as she learns what she wants from life and finally learns how to move on from the death of a loved one.I found this book so sweet, it reminded me of my grandma who used to bake with me all the time! Sadly I didn’t inherit any recipe books but I imagine I would be just like Isa if I did!Watching Isa grow as both a person and a chef feels like watching your little sister grow up. I felt her pain, her love and her laughter.Diego is a brilliant character too - he knows how to bring her out of her shell and make her feel more confident.Now I’d better get in the kitchen. I’m Im itching to make an apple pie!(Thankyou to netgalley for my copy of this book)
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this #ownvoices telling by Mayra Cuevas of a smart, driven, goal focused teen striving to find her place, not only in the kitchen but in her own family. I felt the love she had for her Cuban abuela Lala and how hard she tried to make her proud. One of my favorite quotes “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.” I think this says everything. I I really enjoyed this #ownvoices telling by Mayra Cuevas of a smart, driven, goal focused teen striving to find her place, not only in the kitchen but in her own family. I felt the love she had for her Cuban abuela Lala and how hard she tried to make her proud. One of my favorite quotes “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.” I think this says everything. I feel for Isa, she has heart and so much of it that it almost becomes her undoing. Decisions she makes threatens to unravel her friendships, her apprenticeship, her family relationships and the possibility of knowing love.I think Mayra portrayed Isa (Isabella) like a typical teenager, thinking she knows it all, a touch selfish, close minded to what's in front of her, childish in her attitude at times. It can be irritating at times, her irrationalityWhen she meets Diego, her stepmom's ex stepson, she can't stand him from day one, although she doesn't give him much of a chance. He is definitely a live in the moment kind of guy, or so it seems, Isa currently is not. She is so focused in her own world she loses sight of herself and of her true goal that she ends up hurting those close to her. Her family's dynamic is definitely odd. I feel like her Dad should have stuck up for her more and been more supportive, her stepmom Margot not really showing any kind of love or acceptance toward Isa and you aren't set up to understand why. I didn't really enjoy that aspect of the story. I felt sorry for Isa, she was trying so hard and she had many obstacles including ones she didn't need. No one truly understanding how important the apprenticeship was (except Lucia and Pippa), downplaying her stress of the competition like it's not a big deal. And the kitchen incident with Diego, I could have killed him myself! I think a lot of this stems from her denial that she was falling for him combined with her being on the edge of losing it and not yet having fully coped with the loss of her abuela. Through it all, I loved the storyline in general and it gave me all the feels, esp from when Diego took Isa to Barcelona. I feel that's when everything slowly began to fall in to place. The chef dinner Diego took her to, it was an eye opening experience and Isa discovered in herself what she was truly meant to be and where. Margot going into labor also aided her in realizing what was important. I loved the detail given to the town's and cities and the food experiences. Mayra breaks down all the foodie terms and dishes at the end of the book which is a nice surprise.I felt the sadness, grief from loss, angst, stress, love, warmth, and much more. Overall, I truly enjoyed this read.Thank you to Netgalley and Blink Publishing for sharing an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    Give me a good YA with cooking at it's heart and I'll give you 5-stars. This one is a mix of the humor and seriousness of I Love You So Mochi and the sexy romance of With the Fire on High and that (in the author's note) is so personal for Cuevas in that her only elders helped her through her parents divorce in the kitchen makes it even more meaningful. The tidbits sprinkled throughout the book are applicable to a lot of scenarios for teens reading the book about how to find and follow your Give me a good YA with cooking at it's heart and I'll give you 5-stars. This one is a mix of the humor and seriousness of I Love You So Mochi and the sexy romance of With the Fire on High and that (in the author's note) is so personal for Cuevas in that her only elders helped her through her parents divorce in the kitchen makes it even more meaningful. The tidbits sprinkled throughout the book are applicable to a lot of scenarios for teens reading the book about how to find and follow your passion, that growing up is hard, that families are complicated. In this story, there's a romance between Isa and a boy who comes to live on her dad and stepmom's cherry farm in France, who also happens to be her stepmom's stepson from her previous marriage. Both have had bumpy relationships with their parents. Isa channels her frustration and sadness into cooking and is in an intensive cooking school for several weeks to both get her class credit but add another rung on the ladder she's climbing to work in a kitchen. How she creates her dishes and how she feels about the flops and perfection are beautiful. The story has all of the tumultuousness of teenagedom, including a weak moment when Isa let's a friend down in the kitchen, but the message perseveres that female friendships are significant and important (and which is then underscored by the late-night champagne drinking with Chef Troussaint). The setting is it's own character in so many scenes that make it more perfect and while it seemed like it ended somewhat abruptly, it wasn't distracting-- that last few elements could have been organized differently to come together, but I'll take it no matter what because it hit me in the feels, which any good book can do. "I don't hesitate when I say, 'I want all the stars.'"'"Frente al amor y la muerte, no sirve de nada ser fuerte" was one of Lala's favorite Spanish sayings. It means it's useless to fight against love or death.'"I take one last look in the mirror and see myself dressed in pure white. You are fresh whipped cream with lemon zest, and most definitely not Cool Whip.""'Strong women lift each other up,' she says in a gentler tone."
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  • Abi
    January 1, 1970
    This review is also found at The Rave Library.Ah. My first read of this decade, and this is a one decadent read. I seriously have no expectations for this novel, but I'm glad I gave this one a shot. This indulging debut scored some points from me due to the following:Isabella's journey to become a chef feels real to me. She's a multi-dimensional character who has flaws and mistakes but learns from them. And you know how it's not easy for her to deal with her new family. All the pain she suffered This review is also found at The Rave Library.Ah. My first read of this decade, and this is a one decadent read. I seriously have no expectations for this novel, but I'm glad I gave this one a shot. This indulging debut scored some points from me due to the following:Isabella's journey to become a chef feels real to me. She's a multi-dimensional character who has flaws and mistakes but learns from them. And you know how it's not easy for her to deal with her new family. All the pain she suffered makes me feel bad for her. I love her character developmemt overall.The other charactes are enjooyable and multi-dimensional too. Pippa, Lucia, Snake Eyes, Diego, and Chef Troissant have interesting personalities that makes this novel more delicious. Indeed, they also have some great character development. But the most heartfelt ones are Isa's interactions with Lala, who gave her the much-needed wisdom all the way through.The plot is in the right pace when reading it. It's not that difficult to immerse yourself to Isa's thoughts and dialog. Bonus plus for making me feel like I'm in France and tasted some of their food there, thanks to the interesting descriptions of it, even though some of them seem difficult to make. It also gives you the insight of how harsh the culinary world can be, which is beautifully written.But I gave this one 4 because I was kind of wondering what kind of relationship between Diego and Isa. Aren't they supposed to ex-stepsiblings? Does no one gives a bat of an eye throughout the story? None of them seemed concerned? Yeah, that one raises questions too, even though their interactions are sweet.OVERALL: A delicious debut of love and loss and recovery. Recommended for those who wants to work hard to find their real passion in life. And all the good food, too!RATING: 4 out of 5 starsThank you Netgalley and Blink Publishing for giving this free ARC book in exchange of an honest review.
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  • Katelyn Fowler
    January 1, 1970
    Title: Salty, Bitter, SweetAuthor: Mayra CuevasRelease Date: 3.3.2020Review Date: 1.19.2020I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 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. The upside of Isabella’s world being turned Title: Salty, Bitter, SweetAuthor: Mayra CuevasRelease Date: 3.3.2020Review Date: 1.19.2020I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 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. 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?I really enjoyed this one. I don't tend to pick up contemporary novels but I do love to read the ones that I can just devour. (Haha see what I did there.) The food descriptions in this book where amazing. Some of them made me hungry, and then of course some of them I was grossed out. I have never read a book featuring that much cooking. I liked most of the characters and the setting of France. The romance was also enjoyable. Recommend.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    This was well written and engaging for the foreign setting, diverse cast and mouth watering descriptions of food. Can't tell if it will appeal more to middle-aged women or teens though... ha ha. The character development was fine, although I feel like the father-daughter dynamic fell flat and wasn't addressed as much as the story initially set out to tackle it. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I wasn't bothered by the Diego-Isa romance. It didn't break any mold, and it certainly calls into This was well written and engaging for the foreign setting, diverse cast and mouth watering descriptions of food. Can't tell if it will appeal more to middle-aged women or teens though... ha ha. The character development was fine, although I feel like the father-daughter dynamic fell flat and wasn't addressed as much as the story initially set out to tackle it. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I wasn't bothered by the Diego-Isa romance. It didn't break any mold, and it certainly calls into question any 20 something boys I met back in my day since none of them had Diego's know-how with anything. (Basically, he was supposed to be around 20 but acted like a mature 30 year old on the road with his dog, who knew how to flirt, how to tone it down, and how to plan amazing dates.) Isa finding herself and pursuing her passion was the main storyline, but she was only 17 and though not the "genius" that her friend/cohort Lucia supposedly was in the kitchen, she must have been to some extent to make the cut on this amazing apprenticeship program to train in a Michelin-starred restaurant. High school students no less! So, those far flung elements aside...this was wish fulfillment set in France, which was awesome!
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  • Happily, Hedy
    January 1, 1970
    I learned so much about cooking and baking through this book! I love watching cooking shows like masterchef, so this book definitely appealed to my taste. The ending felt a little abrupt, but I really enjoyed seeing Isa grow and mature through the story. Her internal conflicts are very realistic to a teen’s life, and I appreciate the genuine portrayal of her character.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    Review for Netgalley. The title of the book could reflect the protagonists story arc. Isa is dealing with grief, a recent parental divorce and being in an intense cooking competition. She starts off sad, then to anger, then ends on a sweet note. As well as the intertwining plot points, their is also an enemies to relationship component. A light fun read worth your time.
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  • Lilian
    January 1, 1970
    RTC
  • Maria Flaherty
    January 1, 1970
    I have debated numerous times about the star rating for ‘Salty, Bitter, Sweet’ by Mayra Cuevas and after reminding myself that I am not the typical target audience, then perhaps, I should give the book the benefit of the doubt and opt for 3 stars. The story is about a Cuban American girl, Isabella, who at the age of 17, desperately wishes to become a professional chef and is now embarking on a life changing training/internship at the famous Grattard restaurant in Paris. Isa is battling with her I have debated numerous times about the star rating for ‘Salty, Bitter, Sweet’ by Mayra Cuevas and after reminding myself that I am not the typical target audience, then perhaps, I should give the book the benefit of the doubt and opt for 3 stars. The story is about a Cuban American girl, Isabella, who at the age of 17, desperately wishes to become a professional chef and is now embarking on a life changing training/internship at the famous Grattard restaurant in Paris. Isa is battling with her grief at the recent lost of her abuela Lala, and the startling breaking up of her family. And now, just when she needs to focus her attention is torn by the attractive Diego and the competitiveness of the competition.After finishing this book, I stopped at our local French patisserie as I was absolutely starving for a delicious pastry and this is testament to the wonderful descriptive writing of Cuevas, when writing about the food and cuisine that she clearly loves.On numerous occasions, I found myself becoming frustrated with Isa and her lack of comprehension for her new family situation – and this is where I had to remind myself that the book is aimed at a considerably younger audience. And in this way, I applaud Cuevas. Isa is not without her flaws and when she deliberately sabotages her competitor (and friend) Lucia, the author does not hesitate to point out this error to the protagonist via the reactions of other characters. The author reminds Isa of the importance for the female competitors to work together, rather than infighting. A good lesson in life for females of any age!Towards the end of the novel, there is a considerable learning curve for Isa and while I have my doubts about her relationship with Diego (for me, their relationship is a little too obvious and the signpoints are there from their initial meeting), overall, this is an enjoyable story, which falls into the genre of ‘OwnVoices’ and provides the reader with some lessons about life when you are not the standard – Caucasian Irish/ American etc. Disclaimer: I got a free copy of the eArc of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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  • Margaret Robbins
    January 1, 1970
    Forthcoming review in SLJ, but for now, I’ll say that I loved it!
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