Heartbreak Symphony

Product Details
$11.99  $11.15
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.2 X 1.2 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Laekan Zea Kemp is the Pura Belpré Honor author of books for teens (Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, Heartbreak Symphony, and An Appetite for Miracles), middle grade (Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza), and picture books (A Crown for Corina). Her work celebrates Chicane grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health. She lives in Austin, Texas. Laekan invites you to visit her at laekanzeakemp.com or follow her on Twitter @LaekanZeaKemp.


"A gripping, authentic, and vivid portrayal of grief and the many ways it can manifest itself."

--Jonny Garza Villa, author of Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun

"A heartwarming, soul-searing coming-of-age journey."

--Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, author of How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe
* "This story will be resounding in readers' hearts long after they've turned the last page. With the lyricism of Benjamin Alire Sáenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Raquel Vasquez Gilliland's works, this novel is recommended for all collections."--SLJ, starred review
* "Kemp's latest novel is a multilayered symphony in itself, keeping the reader's emotions heightened from the first sentence until the finale, during which readers will be left breathless in wonder. Kemp effortlessly creates beautifully flawed characters who are impossible to forget."--Booklist, starred review
"A powerfully emotional story about two teens pursuing their dreams in a difficult world."--BCCB
"A lyrical standalone about pursuing one's dreams despite impossible odds."--Publishers Weekly
"A story of surviving grief with the help of community."--Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet:
*"Fans of Elizabeth Acevedo's With the Fire on High will cherish Xander and Pen's love story and Pen's passion for food. This stellar debut offers a cathartic take on a relationship between a father and daughter. Authentic flavor inside and out."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*"Kemp's novel serves up finely rendered, stirring character arcs...as well as an intimate portrait of two teens grappling with mental health, complicated family relationships, and newfound love."

--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Wonderfully realized characters, a vibrant setting, and so much more. I loved this."--Melina Marchetta, award-winning author of Jellicoe Road

"Pen and Xander will steal your heart. One to savor."

--Laura Taylor Namey, New York Times bestselling author of A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow

"A bold new voice to watch in children's fiction."

--Eric Smith, author of Don't Read the Comments

"An affecting, timely debut....Add it to your 2021 TBR list immediately."

--Liz Lawson, author of The Lucky Ones

"Like the delicious food and decadent desserts described within its pages, Kemp's debut explores the often bitter and sweet complexity of family, new love, and what it means to find home. "

--Mia García, author of The Resolutions

"Pen and Xander's unforgettable love story refuses to sugarcoat difficult topics, but instead deftly explores them with a thoughtful hand. A cathartic read and new favorite author."

--Nina Moreno, author of Don't Date Rosa Santos
"Lush imagery celebrates Mexican culture and depicts how food can bring people ­together. . . . not to be missed."--School Library Journal
"Students will enjoy the food descriptions and community culture that lend the story a sense of authenticity and believability."--School Library Connection

"Kemp's precise writing flows from Pen's perspective to Xander's effortlessly, even while revealing their individual lives....Recommended for readers who enjoy strong stories about found families, expectations, and food."

A 2022 Booklist Editors' Choice
A 2023 TAYSHAS Selection
A Bank Street Best Book of the Year