While I've had some mixed experiences with Alsaid's books in the past (that is, really loving Let's Get Lost and not so much loving Never Always Sometimes), I was cautiously optimistic about Alsaid's newest novel. And I ended up really enjoying it!

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is North of Happy by Adi Alsaid!

The story follows Carlos, who has both American and Mexican citizenship but lives in Mexico City with his parents. Then his brother Felix is killed and Carlos is broken. Soon Carlos starts hearing and seeing Felix, telling him to rebel and take charge of his own life, not just follow what his parents tell him. So he sets off on a journey and finds himself in Seattle, at a restaurant his brother always wanted to go to but never got the chance to. Carlos soon finds himself a job at the restaurant and falling for the boss's daughter. With the help of Felix, Carlos tries to navigate his new life and how to make himself happy.

Firstly, and most prominently, I really loved the diversity within this book. I don't know if I've read a book where part of it is set in Mexico, the other part set in America. It was really interesting for me to learn about other cultures and places, to see the differences and similarities. It was also interesting to see Carlos's interactions in Seattle with other Mexicans and Spanish speakers. As a Canadian, I don't see as much integration of our two national languages (English and French) like I did English and Spanish in this book. There was also some interesting racial tensions between some of the characters, when he first starts in the kitchen there are people there who call him "Fake-xican" because even though he's Mexican he can't do XYZ.

The storyline itself was also really interesting. I went through a phase where I thought my career path was going to be something more culinary so I really connected with Carlos's cooking and love of things like only watching the Food Network. Each chapter header included a recipe for either something Carlos made in the chapter or a "recipe" for something he was going through. I loved this aspect and I thought it was a clever inclusion on Alsaid's part.

While there is a romance in this book, it's kind of doomed from the start. We all know that you can't date the bosses daughter and have the job, you've got to pick one. Carlos rides both for a bit, but in the end, it doesn't really matter what he chooses, so long as he is following what is best for him and what will make him happy.

This book deals a lot about Carlos's grief after his brother died and if there was ever a time to step back and make sure things are going best for you, now is the time. On some level, we know not everything is going to work out just because he ran away and doesn't want to confront the issues of his life. So personally, I wasn't too optimistic that the romance was going to work out well, despite the ending.

Overall, there were some things I didn't love about this book as well as things that I did like about it. It was a quick enough read that scratched the surface of Carlos's life and I am content with how it played out.