Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

· Sold by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
2 reviews

About this ebook

I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter meets Emergency Contact in this stunning Pura Belpré Honor Book about 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 not 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 discovering 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.

2 reviews
Ben Beach
August 14, 2020
In Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, Kemp has managed to capture the way that "between-ness" is truly a part of our world. Life, love, family, friends, food - nothing is all sweet, all the time. Nor would we actually want it to be. Although we might at times wish for a little less of the bitter, reality often has other ideas. And so it is for Pen and Xander, as they face the bitter of real life and search for the sweet. They find just how unexpected it can be to encounter both. In the process, these two discover that we can never truly understand others' motivations and that the truth is often far more complex than we imagine. A timely and moving story of young adults learning to deal with the world the previous generation has left them - bitter, sweet, or otherwise.
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Third-party review
I was sent this book from the publisher/publicity team. My ratings and reviews will be my own personal opinions and are in no way influenced by publishers or authors who may have sent me books to ...
Third-party review
Set in a close-knit community in Austin, Tex., debut author Kemp’s exquisite YA contemporary romance follows two Latinx teens after their lives intersect at a beloved neighborhood restaurant. When 18 ...

About the author

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicane grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health. Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is her debut YA contemporary novel. She invites you to visit her at or follow her on Twitter @LaekanZeaKemp.

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