Saturday, April 03, 2021

All You Knead is Love

Guerrero, Tanya. All You Knead is Love
March 30th 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Alba is sent to live with her Abuela Lola in Barcelona, Spain for the summer. She's angry with her mother for making her leave New York, even though Alba understands that her father is abusive, and her mother is probably sending her away so that she will be safe. Abuela Lola is very understanding, even asking Alba how she identifies, since she has a short hair cut and wears boyish t shirts and jeans. Alba meets the daughter of the couple that run her grandmother's Chinese restaurant, Marie, and the two hit it off. She also meets Toni, a friend of her mother's, who had been a magician but started a bakery to support his family. His son, Joaquim, is a Goth/glam rock wannabe who is trying to find his look and sound for a band he is in. Alba takes to baking readily, and finds that it makes her happy when she is worrying about her mother and things back home. Her grandmother makes sure she gets out to see the sights of Barcelona, and introduces her to many of her friends in El Raval, the Filipino neighborhood. These include Manny and Eduardo, a gay couple who collect many things, including theatrical costumes, which come in handy when Alba helps Joaquim with his look for his band. When her mother arrives in Barcelona, Alba is hesitant to believe that things will be okay. Things do get worse when Alba finds out that Toni is going to have to close the bakery, she hopes that she will be able to come up with a plan to help him save it. Her mother helps her research other bakeries, and Alba is cautiously optimistic that the two will stay in Barcelona rather than returning to the US, where she hasn't felt the same feelings of being at home that she now feels. A trip to the country makes Alba feel that things might work out after all, although she still mourns the loss of Toni's bread store. What will Alba's life be like going forward, and will she and her mother be able to work through their trauma to make a new life?
Strengths: I'm always a big fan of books set in other countries, especially since regular travel is restricted and the only travel anyone gets to do is virtual! Barcelona sounds very interesting, and Abuela Lola is a great character with an interesting group of friends. It's fun that Alba is able to hang out with other children her own age, and Marie and Joaquim show her the city nicely, and prove to be good friends at a time when she needs them. I was glad to see that the mother was able to leave the abusive husband and repair her relationship with her mother and with her friend Toni. The details about baking bread made me almost want to make sure myself!
Weaknesses: As someone who wears very utilitarian, perhaps masculine clothes and has short hair, I found Alba's perceptions rather odd. Both of my daughters wore jeans and hoodies all through school, and no one ever said anything. 
What I really think: It's good to see a book where people are able to move past abusive situations and go forward, but this would have been a much more interesting book if Alba had investigated the city more instead of having to process her trauma. There's so much trauma with my students now, and they just want happy books to take their minds off things. I realize that I am alone in the wish for purely happy books, so I can see this title being hugely popular with teachers and librarians who embrace current trends. I will purchase this because of the interesting scenes of Barcelona, as well as the educational value of learning about different sorts of bread!
Ms. Yingling

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