North of Happy by Adi Alsaid
1 cup likeable protagonist
2 ½ cups grief-induced hallucinations
3 cups food porn
½ cup diversity
6 TB forbidden romance
2 TB running away from problems
1 tsp gorgeous Seattle scenery
½ tsp restaurant setting
I cannot resist a novel that is stuffed full of food as this one is. I loved how every chapter heading started off with a recipe that fit into the plot perfectly. Carlos expresses himself through food and cooking, and the descriptions of food are exquisite. I was hungry the entire time I was reading this.
I really liked Carlos’ older brother, Felix, or at least the Felix Carlos keeps seeing hallucinations of. He was hilarious and always seemed to know just what to say or do to spur Carlos forward into living his own life. Suffering the loss of a loved one can be catastrophic, and Alsaid does such a great job of portraying the paralysis of grief. Carlos can’t seem to move on after his brother is shot and killed in Mexico City while the two of them are out hunting for the best tacos in Mexico. It completely derails his life. He worships his older brother and can’t cope with his loss at all.
So when Carlos reaches his breaking point during a graduation party thrown in his honor he gets the crazy idea to go to Seattle in order to eat at a restaurant his brother wanted to visit one day. Before he knows it he’s not only eating at that restaurant, he’s washing dishes there and could potentially end up cooking there himself one day if he can take that leap and let go of his past and the inhibitions holding him back.
Watching Carlos struggle to live again and to chase his dreams was so poignant (I may have shed a tear or two for him), and I was completely riveted by all the delicious food he cooks along the way. It’s a fun diverse read that will leave you hungry for more (yes, I went there). I know that now I have to read all of Alsaid’s other books ASAP. This is such a realistic portrayal of grief that I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has ever lost someone they love.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars