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North of Happy Hardcover – April 25, 2017
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"An exceptional tale of grief, ambition, love, and maturity." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Alsaid 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." -Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. After graduating, he packed up his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches basketball, and makes every dish he eats as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he's lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. Visit Adi online at www.SomewhereOverTheSun.com, or on Twitter: @AdiAlsaid.
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Top Customer Reviews
After his brother Felix is killed in a shooting, Carlos is mired in grief. He feels trapped by his family and their expectations for his future, and apparitions of his brother are urging him to leave Mexico City. Carlos loves to cook, and he and Felix shared an appreciation for food, so he decides to go to America and eat a meal at a restaurant mentioned in one of Felix’s journals in memory of his brother. Two unexpected things happen on his trip, though. First, he meets the chef’s daughter, Emma, and finds she makes him feel normal again, and then Emma gets him a job at the restaurant. Carlos falls in love with both Emma and cooking at the restaurant, but the course of neither of those loves runs smoothly. And there’s still the question of Felix’s continued presence and Carlos’s family and future waiting back in Mexico . . .
I’ve read a number of YA novels recently about grieving teens mourning the deaths of friends, parents, and siblings. This book probably made the least emotional impact, which may have been part of the reason I didn’t find it totally satisfying. I liked the idea behind the apparitions of Felix, and the way they were handled was sometimes amusing. (Felix takes various forms throughout the book, including a pigeon and a dog.) But I think Felix’s constant presence also made his death seem less real and thus less moving to me.
The ending also isn’t a traditionally happy ending. There’s resolution to Carlos’s grief and his family issues, but readers who get really invested in Carlos’s relationship with Emma and his experiences at the restaurant might be disappointed with the way they are handled at the end of the novel.
So, it’s not a bad read, but it left me feeling a little emotionally flat. I’d say readers who enjoy YA contemporaries that deal with serious subjects might want to give it a try, as long as they don’t want a super angsty story.
An eARC of this novel was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
There's a little bit of romance, a little bit of grieving, and a little cooking in this YA novel.