Thursday 23 April 2020

Review: Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas

A slow-burn romance in a cutthroat kitchen! There’s more to becoming a top chef for 17-year-old Isabella Fields than just not getting chopped … especially when the chances of things heating up with an intriguing boy and becoming a food star in the kitchen are both on the chopping block.
Aspiring chef Isa’s 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 her new stepmom, Margo, in Lyon, France, where Isa feels like an outsider in her father’s new life. Isa balances her time between avoiding the awkward, “why-did-you-cheat-on-Mom” conversation with figuring out how a perpetually single woman can at least be a perpetually single chef.
The upside of Isa’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 prestigiously competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isa who is desperate to get her life back in order—and desperate to prove she has what it takes to work in a haute kitchen. But Isa’s stress and repressed grief begin to unravel when the attractive, enigmatic Diego shows up unannounced with his albino dog.
How can Isa 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 things with the mysterious Diego reach a boiling point?

Review: Oh this book had a little bit of everything and so therefore I ended up falling in love with Isa and her story. 

Isa is a great character to spend time with because she is at the stage in life where you think you have your identity as part of a family figured out and then you realise you really don’t. I love the fact that Isa is from Chicago with a French mother, a Cuban grandmother and is there in France with her father to pursue her dreams of being a chef-what a great mix for a novel. 

As if the pressure of family life and chef life wasn’t enough. This author has added in a possible love interest for Isa who is very much an annoyance to her and a hindrance to her career. I loved watching the relationships in this book grow and change. Isa is such a strong character and so seeing how her relationship with her dad evolves and has evolved, as well as the relationships with Margot and Diego and what will happen with those-just magic!

This story also deals with some excellent issues surrounding gender identity. It’s like every aspect of being 16 and one’s identity has been put into a pot and shaken up. I love how the role of women in haute cuisine is explored. The role of a daughter vs the role of a son and how gender bias can work both negatively and positively. Overall this book shows that there is still a gender bias, particularly in this industry and whether things work negatively or positively for you personally, that bias must be addressed. 

Of course I loved all the food in the book. It isn’t always delicious sounding but it is always very intriguing and definitely put me in the mood to be in the kitchen, or perhaps just enjoyed a French Omelette with a nice Cafe Au Lait. I really enjoyed this book. I did the audio and the narration was excellent. High recommend!
To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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