North of Happy – Adi Alsaid

This book was okay. I think in general, Adi Alsaid books have an interesting premise, and he is undoubtedly a strong writer. However, the stories never fully draw me in, almost because the characters are a little too improbable, quirky, and flat. Carlos is immature, and it takes something incredibly drastic for him to realize the important things in his life.

Synopsis

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 US, 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.

Review

This book was okay. I think in general, Adi Alsaid books have an interesting premise, and he is undoubtedly a strong writer. However, the stories never fully draw me in, almost because the characters are a little too improbable, quirky, and flat. Carlos is immature, and it takes something incredibly drastic for him to realize the important things in his life.

He hadn’t moved on with his life after Felix’s death, and that was pretty uncomfortable to read about. He filled his life with some distractions (looking at you, Emma), but that really wasn’t fair to them. He ignored his parents and his friends. It was practically like he was having a midlife crisis, but way too early in his life.

I did like the “nasty chef” bits though. Gordon Ramsay popularized this trope, but taking Carlos under her wing and making him chop onions for weeks was splendid. I want to try some of these dishes!

Related Reading

  • The Possibility of Somewhere – Julia Day
  • The Paradox of Vertical Flight – Emil Ostrovski
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest – J. Ryan Stradal

Rating: 3/5

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