North of Happy

Like the perfect tacos Carlos and his brother, Felix, purchase the night of Felix's death, North of Happy is rich, layered, colorful and delectable.

Felix is the innocent victim of a shooting that night, and Carlos is left bereft and floundering, and feels himself slipping away. He wonders if he can continue on the path his father planned for him--an internship and college in the U.S--thinking to himself, "[T]hey haven't even noticed that my shadow disappeared when Felix did, that I'm not whole anymore." That's when Carlos realizes he has to leave and find what's missing. He leaves his home in Mexico City for a small island off the coast of Washington State where he lands a job washing dishes in a renowned restaurant. For a young man who's always loved food and cooking, he's now immersed in his dream world. The icing on the cake is Emma, the head chef's daughter and the young woman bringing awe and wonder into Carlos's life.

But as Carlos mixes together all the ingredients of his new life--his job, his girlfriend and his family--the recipe doesn't quite turn out the way he plans. There's nothing half-baked about Adi Alsaid (Let's Get Lost) delightful novel; it's wonderful through and through. Felix ends his description of the perfect taco by saying it "makes you hungry for life and... makes you feel like you have never been more alive." Felix could have easily been defining North of Happy.  --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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