Author: Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: April 25, 2017
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher and author as part of the North of Happy ARC Hop
Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
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.
M Y T H O U G H T S
"The world is a much bigger place than you realize," he said with a smile. "We're going to explore it." - ARC of North of Happy
Carlos Portillo lives in Mexico and has a close relationship with his brother, Felix. One of the things the brothers bonded over was finding the perfect taco. Over the course of a night, they would visit restaurants to find the perfect taco. However, things go astray and it ends up in Felix's death. Felix is the one who told Carlos to live life to its fullest and to explore the world. Don't just settle for what's in front of you but to get up and run with what you have to take it to the next level.
Carlos follows Felix's words and travels to the United States to visit Provecho, a restaurant in Washington State that he's seen on TV prior him leaving Mexico. Felix is always with him giving him advice to follow his dreams. Carlos meets Emma who works at Provecho and she is his helping hand to introduce him to Provecho as well as Washington.
The family dynamics is quite interesting in this book. Carlos follows the steps of his brother to explore to world. His mother tries to get him to come back home. Both parents are upset Carlos decided to get up and leave. But of course when family health is involve, Carlos will relocate back to his family
I have been following Adi Alsaid's books since Let's Get Lost. By far North of Happy is my favorite novel written by Alsaid. With careful research about working on the line, he incorporated his love for food in the best way possible.
Each chapter is titled after a recipe and includes the ingredients to make the recipe. I found this to be a very unique way to title and to introduce each chapter. Because the book is heavy on Carlos working his way up the line, food has an importance in the novel. Each recipe is significant to the plot of each chapter. Each chapter is a recipe of life.
Reading North of Happy is like sampling the cuisine with Anthony Bourdain and Chef Ramsey. Maybe it might not be as intense but food is an essential to life. Food is the essence of what it means to be living and it's the substance that keeps us going. Many cultures bond over food during many events and gatherings. It fuels us. As Felix mentions, "You will feel full to your soul." "A taco that makes you hungry for life and that makes you feel like you have never been more alive. Nothing short of that will do."
North of Happy will satisfy readers who love food, traveling and new beginnings. I can guarantee you that your mouth will be watering after reading this novel and your taste buds will be wanting to savor every chapter.