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Publisher's Summary

I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter meets Emergency Contact in this stunning story of first love, familial expectations, the power of food, and finding where you belong.

Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father's restaurant, Nacho's Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans - leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican-American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she's been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho's who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she's been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho's is an opportunity for just that - a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo's, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander's immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discover where they belong in order to save the place they all call home.

This stunning and poignant novel from debut author Laekan Zea Kemp explores identity, found families, and the power of food, all nestled within a courageous and intensely loyal Chicanx community.

©2021 Laekan Zea Kemp (P)2021 Little, Brown Young Readers

Critic Reviews

"Wonderfully realized characters, a vibrant setting, and so much more. I loved this." (Melina Marchetta, award-winning author of Jellicoe Road)

"Pen and Xander will steal your heart. One to savor." (Laura Taylor Namey, author of A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow)

"A bold new voice to watch in children's fiction." (Eric Smith, author of Don't Read the Comments

What listeners say about Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

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Family,Strength, and Self Discovery

This a beautiful story told in two voices that need to heard and yet are too often ignored. This story will hook you in with motifs of family, chosen family, community, love and self discovery. A love story that faces internal, & external conflicts and social questions that will keep you invested. The performances of the two readers bring the story to life.

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great coming if age story

written from a cultural perspective!
Family, business, Crime, love, separation and in reunion in in the face of tragic loss.

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Beautiful

This is a story of kindness, love and determination. Beautifully written and perfect narration. The story is heartbreaking in its truth.

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Impressive

The author drew me into community with the characters and their plight. I found myself concerned about how much this fiction imitated fact. I look forward to the next installment.

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Just ok

The person that wrote this has never owned or run a restaurant. Most of the shenanigans that went on would never happen in real life. Story was pretty good but could have been SO much better! The timeline seemed wonky with two days taking up 10 chapters and then a month goes by in no time. Lots of loose ends!

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A tale of family, love & reaching for dreams

I enjoyed the tale of Pen and her family’s taco restaurant, which serves as an anchor of security in a Hispanic neighborhood. Enter a young man, in country illegally, searching for the father who abandoned him. The story unwinds with rich characters, twists and turns, and inspiring action on the part of the characters. And also finding love and self. I think you’ll enjoy it too!

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  • Mandy
  • 04-19-21

Beautiful book

I raced through this audiobook in less than two days. It's such a lovely, wholesome story full of tantalising culinary descriptions (and some eye-watering restaurant-kitchen confessions). Both narrators did a great job. Recommended to fans of Elizabeth Acevedo's With the Fire on High.

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