Thursday, July 25, 2013

HOT, SOUR, SALTY, SWEET by Sherri L. Smith

Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith is, perhaps, the cutest book I’ve ever read.  It’s the charming YA novel about Ana Shen, a smart and sassy young girl of African-American/Chinese-American heritage, upon her graduation from junior-high school.

The book displays fourteen-year old Ana as she copes with  her many issues—her younger  brother, her parents, her nemesis at school.  Her junior-high graduation is a near ‘disaster’.  Though she has no boyfriend, Ana does have a huge crush on a boy in her class.  Thankfully, she has a loyal best friend, Chelsea, to help her navigate life.

The book has a contemporary feel as it depicts, in Ana’s teacher’s words, a “‘marvelously biracial, multicultural’ family,” as they prepare for and participate in a celebration dinner.  Among the likable characters are Ana’s parents, grandparents, and best friend—featuring dialogue that sounds modern and authentic.  For instance, when Ana says:

“We’ve had exactly three family meals with both sides together. . .  We eat out together.  We have to eat out together, or else there’ll be a fight or a disaster, or the end of the world. . . .  This is no longer a dinner, it’s a competition.  That means you’ve made my life hell for the next’—she glances at her watch—four hours.  Four hours!  Holy crap, I’ve gotta go!”

Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet  is a YA novel that will resonate with both older and YA readers, alike.  This is a book I’d have loved to have read as a young adult.  I found myself reminiscing  on my own junior-high/high school graduations, and that time in my life.  I think Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet will evoke pleasant memories for other readers as well.  (This is a book both mothers and their daughters will empathize with and enjoy reading.)

I so enjoyed reading this book!  Young adult readers will just think, This book is awesome!

A delightful little book, Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet is by an award-winning author.  It’s witty, engaging; its cuteness knows no bounds.

--Yolanda A.  Reid

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