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His whole life has been mapped out for him... Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy...
His whole life has been mapped out for him... Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy...
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  • His whole life has been mapped out for him...

    Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. 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 United States 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.

About the Author-

  • Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. After graduating, he packed up his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches basketball, and makes every dish he eats as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he's lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. Visit Adi online at www.SomewhereOverTheSun.com, or on Twitter: @AdiAlsaid.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 6, 2017
    Mexico City native Carlos Portillo always looked up to his older brother, Felix, who shared his passion for food and did things his own way, rather than follow in their wealthy father’s path. Now Felix is dead, but Carlos still feels his presence, urging him to leave home and follow his dreams, instead of doing a summer internship with his father then attending college in America. On a whim, Carlos runs away to Seattle and takes a job as a dishwasher at a renowned restaurant. Carlos is determined to prove his culinary skills to his boss, but trouble brews when he falls for the chef’s daughter, Emma, and is told that if he dates her he’ll be fired. In a story pitting ambition against love and deference against independence, Alsaid (Never Always Sometimes) strongly evokes the frenzied atmosphere of a restaurant kitchen and the equally turbulent emotions of a young man struggling to sort his priorities. Carlos’s frequent visions of Felix add extra dimension, shedding light on the brothers’ history and underscoring Carlos’s underlying grief. An Alloy Entertainment property. Ages 14–up. Agent: Pete Knapp, Park Literary Group.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 15, 2017
    A Mexican teen does his best to escape his troubles in the United States.Carlos Portillo has lived a comfortable life in Mexico City, content to follow the path laid out for him by his parents and to pursue his passion for cooking as a hobby. When Carlos' older, vagabond brother, Felix, is tragically killed, Carlos flees his family and preplanned life for Washington's San Juan Islands, where he settles in to a job washing dishes at a restaurant he and his brother worshipped from afar. Before long, Carlos begins training with legendary Chef Elise St Croix and strikes up a romance with the chef's daughter, Emma, a white girl. As Carlos works through his grief and rediscovers his initiative, the author weaves a sweet love story on the side, but the novel's primary focus is the balance a passionate person must strike between family and art. Carlos is an intriguing protagonist, observing his brother's ghost and hearing his voice often but never succumbing to full-blown paranoia or madness. His affection for Emma is endearing, but his character truly sings in the kitchen. The kitchen scenes crackle with energy, painting vivid pictures of delicious food that will make readers' mouths water. The multiethnic kitchen staff sparkle as well, bouncing off one another with genuine rapport that lends authenticity to the narrative--as does Carlos' frank address of the myriad microaggressions he experiences. An exceptional tale of grief, ambition, love, and maturity. (Fiction. 12-16)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2017

    Gr 8 Up-Carlos, 18, lives a sheltered, affluent life in Mexico City. His future is all set out for him by his well-intentioned father. But when his older brother Felix comes for a visit, he encourages Carlos to follow his dream of cooking instead. Suddenly, Felix is tragically killed by a stray bullet, and Carlos begins to question everything in his life. But Felix hasn't completely left him; his ghost keeps Carlos company, pushing him to follow his heart. Carlos buys a one-way plane ticket to the United States, to eat at a famed restaurant on a tiny island near Seattle, something the brothers had dreamed of doing. There Carlos meets Emma, the chef's daughter, and they instantly connect. His time with Emma is a respite from his solitary pain. The protagonist is given a dishwasher job at the restaurant, and he begins to learn the ins and outs of the kitchen, eventually securing early morning cooking lessons with the chef. But there's a catch-Carlos must end his relationship with Emma. As Carlos pursues his dreams, the visits from Felix become fewer and fewer. This is a story of how tragedy can make us question the things that matter most in life. Alsaid has created a quiet, introspective novel dealing with love, loss, and the spaces in-between. Readers will appreciate the peek at a small Washington island and a fine restaurant. This title will also appeal to budding chefs and fans of the popular culinary arts movement. VERDICT Recommended for all YA collections.-Emily Valente, Brooklyn Friends School

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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