I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Salt and Sugar by Rebecca Carvalho
Published by Inkyard Press on 2022-11-01
Length: 353 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2023, COYER 2023
The grandchildren of two rival Brazilian bakeries fall in love despite their families’ feud in this delicious debut rom-com perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and Gloria Chao.
Trust neither thin-bottomed frying pans nor Molinas.
Lari Ramires has always known this to be true. In Olinda, Brazil, her family’s bakery, Salt, has been at war with the Molinas’ bakery across the street, Sugar, for generations. But Lari’s world turns upside down when her beloved grandmother passes away. On top of that, a big supermarket chain has moved to town, forcing many of the small businesses to close.
Determined to protect her home, Lari does the unthinkable—she works together with Pedro Molina to save both of their bakeries. Lari realizes she might not know Pedro as well as she thought—and she maybe even likes what she learns—but the question remains: Can a Ramires and a Molina truly trust one another?
This one grew on me. Salt and Sugar by Rebecca Carvalho is a tale of star-crossed lovers….erhm I mean a story about the grandchildren of two rival bakeries who form a tenuous alliance in the hopes of saving their bakeries from being swallowed up by a big box store. From the Brazilian setting to the copious amounts of food, this book will leave you satisfied and craving more.
I will be the first to admit I did NOT like the start of this book. It felt very young, even for a YA, like classify it middle grade young. However, about a quarter of the way into the book I realized something I didn’t pick up on to begin with. I think the over-the-top drama was intentional and essential to the story as Lari, our main character, mentions multiple times how much her grandmother loved telenovelas and would compare what was happening to her as something from one of those shows. With that in mind, I was able to thoroughly sit back and enjoy this book.
The story opens on the day of Lari’s grandmother’s funeral. She is overwhelmed with her grief and angry at the situation. Her anger is only expounded when she arrives home to their bakery to find the bakery across the street open and flaunting their success. In a fit of rage, she walks over to give them a piece of her mind only to trip and accidentally take out the wedding cake Pedro worked on all morning. And so the drama begins.
Lari is an interesting character. She feels things deeper than most characters, and as such she reacts accordingly. Her grief over losing her grandmother and the fear of losing her home and bakery eat away at her. Lari is desperate, and desperate people do desperate things like making a deal with the devil or in her case a deal with a Molina.
Pedro is not at all what Lari, or I, expected him to be. He is harsh at times, the feud between their families interfering with their personal and school lives. But he is also kind and empathetic toward Lari. He understands her fear better than anyone else as it is his own fear. This common ground gives them a chance to bond and find out that there may be something better to fight over.
The feud itself is over the top drama, but again spot on for a telenovela. I loved the backstory we are given, and the things we learn through Lari as she learns there is more to it as well. The budding relationship between Pedro and Lari is also sweet in nature, and I found myself rooting for them early on.
Overall, I enjoyed Salt and Sugar. The cultural tie-in to Brazil was fun to explore, and all the food made me hungry and curious to try out some new recipes. If you are a fan of enemies to lovers or looking for a sweet YA contemporary, I highly recommend it.
Salt and Sugar is the YA pick for #COYER’s January Book Club. Join us in the Facebook group on Sunday, 1/29 at 4pm EST for our live chat. Voting for March’s book club is live now in the group.