Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres
Release date: January 3, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Estefania "Stef" Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family's taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It's no fun being known as the "Taco Queen" at school. But just when it looks like Stef is going to get exactly what she wants, and her family's livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck's unlikely champion.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm not usually much for middle grade books anymore, but this one caught my eye last year, and when it was available for review request on Edelweiss, I decided to give it a try. While it isn't going to be one of my favorites, it's definitely a hit that younger readers will love.
Stef Soto is a feel-good story about a young girl who is proud of her parents but a bit embarrassed of her papi's taco truck, Tia Perla. She also wants more freedom and to be treated like a teenager, not a child, things that I'm sure many young readers could relate to. The plot overall is a bit simple and the friendships didn't go as deep as I wanted them to, but I liked that Stef was willing to apologize for her mistakes and that Julia wasn't such a mean girl. Ms. Torres did a good job explaining (but not necessarily excusing) Julia's behavior. The Viviana Vega plotline could've been a bit more important earlier on; it worked towards the end but not much before that for me. But the taco truck plot was great. It felt grown-up and realistic, not like something you'd see in a Disney Channel movie.
The Verdict: I acknowledge that I am not the target audience for this book, so it felt a bit too juvenile for me. However, I definitely think it could be a hit with middle grade readers.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Probably not, but it was a fun read!