Friday, April 28, 2017

ARC Review: North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

Summary: New from critically acclaimed author of LET'S GET LOST and NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES. In the wake of his brother's untimely death, a teen chef runs away from home to find his true path in life.

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the US, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family where he attends an elite international school. His friends and peers-fellow rich kids-have plans to attend college somewhere in the US or Europe and someday take over their parents' businesses. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix--who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel--is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother's voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father's plan for him. Worrying about his mental health, but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the US and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss's daughter--a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what's most important to him and where his true path really lies (Via

Release Date: April 25th, 2017

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I was fortunate enough to read an advanced copy of North of Happy through an ARC Hop the author, Adi Alsaid, organized. Thanks again for organizing it, Adi! North of Happy is the first novel by Adi Alsaid that I have read, but it will not be my last. North of Happy is one of my absolute favorite novels of 2017 so far. It was refreshing, unique, and an all-around amazing book. If you have yet to pick up a copy of North of Happy, I highly recommend doing so.

North of Happy follows the character, Carlos, who is grieving with the sudden death of his brother. Following his graduation, Carlos unexpectedly travels to Washington state to eat at a restaurant his brother always wanted to visit. In Washington, he begins to rethink the life his family has planned for him. The plot of the story is heartbreaking and tragic, but the story itself is still fun and lively while still being raw and impactful. While I am not going through the same problems as Carlos, I was still able to relate to him. I am approaching my senior year of high school and my impending future terrifies me. I was able to relate to the hesitance he has towards his future. It was nice to be able to identify with in a book that featured a similar topic that I am going through.

The novel also featured a lot of cooking. I have never read a novel before that had a character who worked in a kitchen or avidly cooked, so the uniqueness was refreshing. I also love the Food Network, so I was instantly addicted to the involvement of cooking. The novel is also uniquely formatted where each chapter is a recipe. The chapter begins with a specific food item and its ingredients, and the "method" of the recipe is the actual story. It was amazing to see the food items tie into the chapter and to see the preparation of the food items. I cannot tell you how frequently I craved food in general or the food that was prepared in each chapter.  I was introduced to new foods and recipes I hope to try out in the near future. Warming: do not read this book on an empty stomach!

North of Happy also featured diverse content. The main character is a dual citizen of Mexico and the United States and the novel takes place in both Mexico City and the state of Washington. I have previously visited Mexico; however, I have yet to make it to Mexico City. It was interesting to read about the city and learn facts about Mexico I never knew. The novel also features mental health issues because Carlos sees and hears his brother following his death.

North of Happy featured the perfect blend of heartbreak and self-discovery with a dash of romance. If you are in the mood for a Young Adult contemporary novel, I highly recommend reaching for North of Happy. It is a quick read that remains resonant with its readers long after the last page.

1 comment:

  1. I still need to read his other book Sometimes Always Never. I'll have to add this to the never ending list. Thanks for the wonderful review and heads up.