Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Takeout

Badua, Tracy. The Takeout
May 9, 2023 by Clarion Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
Mila's grandparents moved to the US from the Philippines so that their children could have a better life, so her grandmother is not happy that her father has given up working as an engineer to start up a Filipino-Indian fusion food truck, The Banana Leaf, with his friend Mr. Ram. Since her mother has had to quit work to go take care of her aging parents back in the Philippines, Mila and her father have moved in with her grandmother in Coral Beach, Florida. It's a very different community that the one Mila is used to in California, where it was very diverse. Mila has managed to make friends with a group of popular girls, but she feels very different from them, since they are all wealthy and care more about dressing the same. They do share an interest in the Fab Foodie brothers, social media darlings Chip and Chaz Darlington, so when the two come to town, Mila is excited that her father gets tickets to the soft opening of their new restaurant, Marigold and Myth. To her horror, however, Mila realizes that their menu is copied straight from The Banana Leaf's, and research into their background (which she does along with Mr. Ram's nephew Ajay) reveals that the duo has copied another restaurant and hurt their business in the past. Using some of the Filipino folk magic that her older sister Catalina is studying, Mila tries to prove that the Darlington brothers have targeted her father's business, and to stop them before it is too late. 
Strengths: Since their truth serum and "vex hex" seems to provoke responses in people, I think we'll have to say there is magic, so this would be a fantasy book. The Banana Leaf is a very cool food truck, and the description of food made me hungry! I appreciated that Mila wanted to stay close to her Filipino culture even when she had trouble with the folk magic, and it was interesting that her sister, who was six years older, knew how to speak Tagalog when Mila didn't. Mila and Ajay make a good team, and the Darlington brothers are villains with a twist. 
Weaknesses:  While I can understand that Mila was sad to have to be living with her grandmother in a new town, she had rather negative attitudes about her new friends, but also about her grandmother. I can understand not wanting to sublimate her personality for her friends, but not liking her grandmother because she wanted to keep her home clean and wanted the best for Mila and her father seemed unreasonable. I guess I'm just feeling more sympathetic to the grandparent demographic, since I am rapidly approaching it. 
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who lived Little's Worse Than Weird and Torres' Stef Soto, Taco Queen, but want a little more magic, like Borba's The Midnight Brigade

Ms. Yingling

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