Salty, Bitter, Sweet

Mayra Cuevas. Blink, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-310-76977-4
Cuban-French Isabella Fields, 17, is the only American among 15 students chosen for a three-week apprenticeship at La Table de Lyon, a Michelin three-star restaurant in the world’s gastronomic capital. One graduate will be selected to stay on for a year, and the competition is intense. For Isabella, the apprenticeship is a chance to press “a reset button to erase everything that’s happened in the last year.” Her beloved Cuban abuela, Lala, died, and Isabella emigrated from Chicago to France with her father and new, pregnant stepmother Margo; she’s avoiding “the why-did-you-cheat-on-Mom conversation,” as well as her overwhelming grief. But the high-pressure environment of Chef Troissant’s kitchen is a far cry from the love-filled cooking on Lala’s Kansas farm. When Margo’s smoldering stepson Diego moves in with them, Isabella finds her attention growing divided. Though Diego and Isabella’s eventual partnering is never in question and character development is slight, Cuevas effectively touches on the complexities of female ambition in a male-dominated field and multiracial identity (“Never Cuban enough, or French enough, or American enough—that’s me, a dissonant three-course meal”), making this an engaging, multilayered read for aspiring chefs. Ages 13–up. Agent: Saritza Hernandez, Corvisiero Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 02/20/2020
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Children's
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