February 24, 2020

DNF Review: Salty, Bitter, Sweet

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Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas
Grade: DNF
Release date: March 3, 2020
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Seventeen-year-old aspiring chef Isabella Fields’ 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 his new wife in France, where Isabella feels like an outsider in her father’s new life, studiously avoiding the awkward, “Why did you cheat on Mom?” conversation.

The upside of Isabella’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 prestigious and competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isabella, who is desperate to get her life back in order.

But how can Isabella 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 a mysterious new guy and his albino dog fall into her life?

When did I stop reading?: 24% into my e-galley
Why did I stop reading?: I was already tired of the characters and narrative voice. Salty, Bitter, Sweet was already turning into a typical cooking YA where the main character is a major klutz and messes up everything she does in the kitchen. I'd rather see ebbs and flows of the character succeeding and failing, even early in the story, because it would be more realistic. It's not like Isabella has never cooked before, and she managed to get this apprenticeship so she should be better at cooking. I'd accept her being a bit slower at some tasks, but like...messing up every assignment/recipe so far? Just feels too cliche. Also I was not into Diego's presence at all from the moment he appeared on the page. So I decided it was better if I DNFed.

The Verdict: Could've been so much better than it was.

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