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Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith

February 12th, 2008 (10:39 am)
okay

Current Mood: okay
Current Song: Magic by Pilot

Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith takes place over the course of one day, starting at a girl's eighth grade graduation. Ana's entire family and both sets of grandparents come to her graduation ceremony, which is literally disastrous: a water pipe breaks, dousing the graduates just as Ana was beginning her salutatorian speech. After graduation, at the nudging of her best friend, she manages to invite her crush Jamie over for dinner.

It sounds simple enough, but it's not. Her grandparents don't really get along. Ana's mom is African-American and her dad is Chinese-American. Ana, her parents, and her bouncy little brother are happy and well, but the grands always experience a cultural clash when they are in the same room. The grandmothers frequently try to one-up each other with gifts and stories. Now they'll try to do the same as they race to prepare the perfect dishes for Ana's impromptu graduation dinner.

As if it weren't trouble enough having all of the grandparents in the kitchen cooking up completely different foods, some unexpected guests arrive, further complicating things. When Ana steps out of the kitchen and looks around the dinner table, she's bound to be surprised. Ultimately, her family's different cultures and tastes blend together and compliment each other, and the ending, like the meal, is satisfying for Ana.

A quick G-rated read for middle school students that encourages the blending and appreciation of different cultures. Maybe a little predictable, but fairly innocuous.

I also recommend Smith's previous releases: Lucy the Giant, the tale of a taller-than-average teen who leaves behind her alcoholic father and works on a crabbing boat; and Sparrow, the story of a girl raised by her grandmother after her parents and little brother were killed in a car accident when she was a toddler, who must find a new guardian after another tragedy strikes.

Sherri L. Smith dropped by Bildungsroman on Monday, February 18th, as part of her blog tour!