Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Product Details
$17.99  $16.73
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date
5.6 X 8.4 X 1.5 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author
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 Chicane grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health. Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is her debut YA contemporary novel. She invites you to visit her at or follow her on Twitter @LaekanZeaKemp.
"Students will enjoy the food descriptions and community culture that lend the story a sense of authenticity and believability."--School Library Connection
"Lush imagery celebrates Mexican culture and depicts how food can bring people ­together. . . . not to be missed."--School Library Journal
"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

"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

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

--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Recommended for readers who enjoy strong stories about found families, expectations, and food."

A Pura Belpré Honor Book
YALSA's 2022 Best Fiction for Young Adults list
KirkusReviews Best Books of 2021 list
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2021 list
New York Public Library Best of 2021 list
Kirkus Reviews Best YA of 2021 list
Milwaukee County Teen Book Award, Nominee
Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee 2022-2023
TAYSHAS High School 2022 reading list
Eliot Rosewater HS Book Award Nomineee
Georgia Peach Teen Readers 2022-2023

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