Could home be…Somewhere between bitter and Sweet?

This issue’s theme pulled me towards a Young Adult novel.

When considering the concept of going home, my inner niña couldn’t help but want to come out and share her thoughts and feelings. After all, our first experiences of home and all that comes with it are in our childhood. For me, the memories that came up were being called in after playing outside all day (because that’s what we did in the 90s), feeling scared and crawling into my mama’s lap, or getting older and turning away from mama and going into the safety and recluse of my room and self. 

Intended for teens, this book reminded me that the teen within me still lives. Her pains, her joys, her first feelings of love, and every other part of her valid encounters. 

It reminded me that the image of an ideal home that I had chased for so long and sometimes feel myself chasing as an adult with my own nuclear family, isn’t a perfect concoction. The home I am building for myself and children is imperfect- bitter when there is a breakdown, sweet in every kiss, and bittersweet in all moments of healing inbetween.

Thus, an appropriate title and story….

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp

If one were to say that Penelope Prado loves working at her father’s restaurant, it would be an understatement. She feels most alive within the chaos of the kitchen while simultaneously running the staff waiting tables and providing services. If she could do this and perhaps expand in the future to include her own panaderia, all of her dreams would come true. This would all be perfect if her parents agreed with her. But in classic style of Papa know best, Penelope’s dreams are shattered and she’s forced to navigate the thin line of respecting her family and following her heart.

Xander Amaro would love any place to call home. Living as an undocumented immigrant has kept him from opening up and building bonds with others; surviving feeling abandoned by both parents makes it feel impossible. Yet, somehow he wanders into Nachos Tacos and for once feels seen.

This book navigates real, relatable and heartfelt topics that can also be major triggers. Major anxiety, threat of deportation, family trauma, and arson occur in this story. It is painful, healing, and sparks hope. Hope in honoring where we’ve come from while stepping forward in honoring ourselves.

May this issue’s pick speak to your adult self and inner teen as you explore our theme of home and calling in. 

Your Bookish Homegirl,


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