Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 784
great YA contemporary about chasing your dreams
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
SALTY, BITTER, SWEET is a book about family, forgiveness, grief, and following your passion. Isabella dreams of being a world-class chef, and she is closer than ever to achieving that dream now that she has been enrolled in an elite competition/class. For three weeks, she will work alongside 14 other international candidates to compete for a spot in the elite, Michelin-star-rated restaurant. This opportunity could be the one that launches her career.

Isabella is part-French, part-Cuban, and part-European American. She is living with her father and his new pregnant wife in France. She is determined to win over her new stepmother with her cooking. Her world is thrown for a loop when a very attractive teen, Diego, arrives to stay with him. He is Margo's former stepson.

In the class, Isabella quickly finds enemies and friends, in the only two other girls in the competition. However, it is not an easy path to the finish line, and Isabella will find her morals, life views, and heart tested along the way.

What I loved: I loved Isabella- she is a character that grips the heart from the get-go. This setting and premise are really unique and I really enjoyed it. Isabella's cooking is tied in to her grandmother, Lala, who has recently died. There's a lot of grieving throughout the story that adds a beautiful touch to the story. I also felt like the overall message of happiness and finding potential other routes to doing what you love is really valuable. There's not always a clear right and wrong way to do things, and this book really emphasizes the personal decisions and finding your own way.

What left me wanting more: I felt like there were some plot points that were not fully addressed in the story (probably just like in real life). For instance, there's an unexplained/unaddressed animosity from Margo (the stepmother) for Isabella, even though Isabella is frequently trying to make her happy (which just breaks my heart). There is a heartfelt conversation about her parents' divorce with her father (who had an affair), but I felt like there needed to be a bit more to it (it seemed a little bland/surface-level).

Final verdict: Overall, this is a charming YA contemporary about finding your way in an ever-changing world. Highly recommend for anyone looking for a book about chasing your dreams with a touch of familial and romantic love.
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