Ugh, Parent Drama

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Usually, my three star reviews are because I am truly ambivalent about a book. I don’t care for it either way. But with Salt And Sugar by Rebecca Carvalho, I’m stuck between liking this book and absolutely hating it.

Let’s talk about my likes first. I liked that this book, about two rival bakeries needing to work together, featured a main character who knew absolutely nothing about cooking. It was so strangely refreshing to read about a main character who was clumsy and had never worked in a kitchen before, but who still cared about her family’s bakery and wanted to do everything she could to save it.

I enjoyed how this book took place in Brazil. I can’t think of any other books I’ve read that also take place in Brazil, which honestly makes me super sad. Seeing a different culture written so casually and so lovingly like this was very nice, and I loved learning about the food referenced in this story! I’m very appreciative that this book is getting published, and I hope it causes a wave of other similar books to get published as well.

I also liked the plot to this book. Two rival bakeries are threatened by a nearby supermarket stealing their recipes and selling the product for less than the bakeries can afford to sell them for, so the children of these two families work together to save the businesses. I wasn’t expecting fake dating and a cooking contest in this book, but I loved watching the story make its way toward this.

I had a strange, love-hate relationship with the main couple of this book, however. As the Romeo and Juliet of their neighborhood, it’s no surprise that Lari and Pedro are going to learn to like each other throughout this book. I thought the idea of their relationship was cute and enjoyed seeing them interact occasionally, but I also found myself cringing sometimes. The execution of how their story unfolded just… wasn’t it for me.

The biggest reason I didn’t like this book, however, was Lari and Pedro’s moms. This book opens with the two women screaming and fighting over a misunderstanding and never gets better. Their melodrama was exhausting to read, and I was honestly pissed off throughout the majority of this book that these adult women were more childish than their children.

One of my least favorite conflicts in books is when helicopter parents think they know what is best for their children, and this just so happens to be a big conflict in this book as well. I was even hit with the “we worked hard so you could live a better life, which obviously means going to college and not following your own personal dreams” line. I’ve explained my feelings on this line before, but let me reiterate: I will slap any parent who says they’d rather have a depressed college student doing what they hate for the sake of money than a kid who uses their parents’ “hard work” and support to achieve their own dreams. These parents obviously don’t care about their kids, and therefore immediately go into the bin of irredeemable characters I hate. There are no exceptions.

So even though I enjoyed the story of the teens trying to save their family businesses, my rating for this book immediately dropped once I realized half of the story was going to focus on these childish mothers. I’ll pull no punches: if I wanted to read Mom Drama, I’d pick up an adult book about women named Karen.