Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp Book Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Hear Our Voices Book Tours . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here. 

Author Information

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicanx grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health. Her debut novel, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BITTER & SWEET is forthcoming from Little Brown in spring 2021.

You can find Laekan Zea Kemp at:

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website ~ Goodreads

Book Description

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Genre: YA Fiction

Book Info:

As an aspiring pastry chef, Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelerĂ­a next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans — leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican-American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she’s been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. 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 home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho’s is an opportunity for just that — a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his new found family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong — both within their families and their fiercely loyal Chicanx community — in order to save the place they all call home.

You can find the book at:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble  ~ 


Thoughts and Themes: There are very few books that I take a lot of notes for and this was one of them. I was glad that Libro.Fm gave me an advanced listening copy so that I could listen to this story while following along with the e-book.

While this book cover and synopsis make it sound like its a romance book, it is so much more than that. I really liked the complexity of this being first love but also adding the feeling of hopelessness and the theme of found family. I thought it was great to see both of these themes played out through Pen and Xander’s storylines because you saw how it affected them differently.

I liked the idea that the restaurant is so much more than just a place that people go to eat at. I liked how it represented something to the neighborhood but also how we see the weight it had on the dad. I thought that it was important to include both of these points in the book because we see how much he wants to help but its to the point that it hurts him. I liked how this portion of the book resolves itself but I can’t say much about this or I’ll ruin the story for you all.

Something else that I loved about this book was the idea of found family both for Xander and for pen. I like watching them both be able to give this to each other and how Xander realizes family isn’t always just blood.

Overall this story was just so heartwarming and it just reminded me of how important community is. I just loved seeing how they all came together to support Pen when she needed them. It reminded me of times that I’ve been in community with others and how much my communities have supported me throughout my life.

Characters: There is not a character in this book that isn’t lovable, well…besides the villain of the story you know. Every other character that you met is just a great addition to the story. You have the main characters Pen and Xander and through them you are introduced to both of their families and the people who work with them.

I really enjoyed the way the relationship between Pen and her father was shown and how that relationship developed and changed throughout the book. I thought it was great to see things through Pen’s perspective and see what she thought her father was thinking of her. I really liked how Xander was thinking the tension between them was because they were the same person. I laughed when I read that piece because it reminded me of my relationship with my dad.

I really liked getting to know both Pen and Xander and seeing how their stories connected to each other. I liked seeing how the themes in both of their stories parallel each other in different ways. I also liked seeing how they slowly fall in love with each other as they learn more about one another.

Writing Style: This story is told through first person dual perspectives of Pen and Xander. It was great to be able to see both of their perspectives to know what was going on in each of their heads. I think the story would not have worked if we only got one side because it is about both of them struggling to belong.