Somewhere between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp is a must read for 2021

Hello readers! Today I’m going to review an upcoming latinx book. Originally, I planned to read Somewhere Between Bitter during Latinx heritage month, but because I have no self-control, I began another book series (Hidden Legacy but Ilona Andrews). And my carefully crafted tbr was swallowed into the abyss. If you would like to read those reviews, you can find them here.

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is the newest novel by Leakan Zea Kemp set to debut April 2021. And the cover is simply gorgeous!

*Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

This post also contains an affiliate link to my bookshop. I earn a commission if you finalize a purchase through my bookshop link. For more information about me being a bookshop affiliate check out this post.


Penelope Prado, an aspiring pastry chef, has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. However, Pen’s parents don’t share her dream– leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican-American parents or following her own path. When she finally confesses her secret to her parents, her life is completely changed. 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 a place to belong since his father left home. When he’s hired at Nacho’s he finally has a chance for stability and the money to find his father. But when Xander and Nacho’s are threatened, he’ll do anything to hold onto them.


Somewhere between Bitter and Sweet is an engrossing coming of age young adult (although the characters are legally adults). Four stars from me.

The characters are likable and will welcome you into the story. The writing in this novel makes you feel like you’re part of the prank wars, the kitchen staff at Nacho’s, and Pen’s neighborhood. Now and again the authors pens some sentences that take my breath away.

“I take a deep breath, the scents of a thousand shifts at the restaurant tucked into the fabric of the front seat. I start listing them too: mango and cilantro and epazote, tomatillos and roasted pepitas and tortillas.”

Laekan Zea Kemp

Pen gives off the air of a courageous and independent young woman. From her decision to drop out of school to her choice to rent her own apartment instead of returning home. That is all a front. Pen is stubborn and independent, but not all the time. Which I loved seeing. We all have our emotional breakdowns now and then.

“So I have to decide what’s scarier: living a life that doesn’t belong to me, or losing the one I love. If the truth breaks my father’s heart, I know he’ll take it from me.”

Laekan Zea Kemp

Despite Xander’s tragic backstory, he isn’t stubborn like Pen, but he has a big heart. Xander becomes super protective of the people in his life. For example, after he begins dating Pen, he doesn’t hesitate to run out and defend her.

This novel also touches on some heavy things like self-harm, depression, anxiety, violence, and of course, ICE. The novel handles all these things with seriousness and care. However, keep those things in mind if you choose to read this novel.

Despite the things I loved in this novel there were also things that I wasn’t much a fan of. For example, Penelope has two younger siblings, Hugo and Lola, but there aren’t many scenes with them, and I forgot they were there. I’m curious why the author included them when they do not have a storyline. In contrast, Pen’s older brother Angel has a bigger role in the story and is the more memorable sibling.

Additionally, Pen and Xander’s love story felt a little rushed. This might have been due to me taking long breaks from reading this novel, but I did not feel their chemistry. However, I did like them together and the way they uplifted each other and the way their personalities complimented each other. They were cute AF.

“I had forgotten what my name was supposed to sound like. The way it bends into a sigh. The way it curls and loosens.

Laekan Zea Kemp

Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel and if you’re interested too you can preorder it here and join the pre-order campaign to receive some goodies.

Until next time I’ll be living in libros,


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