cover image North of Happy

North of Happy

Adi Alsaid. Harlequin Teen, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-373-21228-6

Mexico City native Carlos Portillo always looked up to his older brother, Felix, who shared his passion for food and did things his own way, rather than follow in their wealthy father’s path. Now Felix is dead, but Carlos still feels his presence, urging him to leave home and follow his dreams, instead of doing a summer internship with his father then attending college in America. On a whim, Carlos runs away to Seattle and takes a job as a dishwasher at a renowned restaurant. Carlos is determined to prove his culinary skills to his boss, but trouble brews when he falls for the chef’s daughter, Emma, and is told that if he dates her he’ll be fired. In a story pitting ambition against love and deference against independence, Alsaid (Never Always Sometimes) strongly evokes the frenzied atmosphere of a restaurant kitchen and the equally turbulent emotions of a young man struggling to sort his priorities. Carlos’s frequent visions of Felix add extra dimension, shedding light on the brothers’ history and underscoring Carlos’s underlying grief. An Alloy Entertainment property. Ages 14–up. Agent: Pete Knapp, Park Literary Group. (Apr.)