Tuesday, April 25, 2017

North of Happy {by Adi Alsaid}

Title: North of Happy
Author: Adi Alsaid
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: ARC Hop

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the US, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family where he attends an elite international school. His friends and peers-fellow rich kids-have plans to attend college somewhere in the US or Europe and someday take over their parents' businesses. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.
When his older brother, Felix--who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel--is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother's voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father's plan for him. Worrying about his mental health, but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the US and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss's daughter--a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what's most important to him and where his true path really lies.

I loved Alsaid's first book Let's Get Lost, but DNF'd his second, Never Always Sometimes, so I was interested to see where this third book fell. Fortunately, I loved it. It's a story about grief, family, and lots and lots of food. I always seem to enjoy food/restaurant based books, and this one did not disappoint. Warning: you will probably be very hungry during the reading of this book.

Pros:

  • I loved that this was a YA with a non-American protag. It was so very interesting to see through the lens of privilege of someone not living in America, and how that looks to the rest of the world. 
  • Did I mention the food? I loved getting a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a restaurant and how one actually starts from the bottom to work their way up. I also loved the chapter headings, and I'm pretty sure some of the descriptions made me actually drool.
  • Carlos is still grieving the death of his brother. Grief can be a very hard subject to tackle, and I think the author did a good job. Grief will look different for everyone, and I appreciate the author showcasing that.
Cons:
  • Our love interest was very one-dimensional. She seemed very much like your manic-pixie-dream-girl and I wish we could have gotten some more depth and character out of her.
  • I didn't feel as if the parental relationships were fleshed out well enough, both for Carlos and Emma. We know that Carlos and his dad have issues, but not getting to see much of his relationship with his parents made it hard to empathize/understand. Same for Emma; we know she and her parents don't get along the best, but the relationships were never as fleshed out as they could be.
  • The plot itself fell a little flat, for me. 
This book was still very fun and cute. I'm not sure if felt as deep to me as maybe the author meant it, but it was still a very enjoyable read.

Other books by this author:



Adi Alsaid:

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