I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter meets Emergency Contact in this stunning Pura Belpré Honor Book about first love, familial expectations, the power of food, and finding where you belong.
Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father's restaurant, Nacho's Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans—leaving Pen to choose between not disappointing her traditional Mexican American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she's been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho's who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she's been too afraid to ask herself.
Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho's is an opportunity for just that—a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo's, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander's immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound family, and himself.
Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong in order to save the place they all call home.
This stunning and poignant novel from debut author Laekan Zea Kemp explores identity, found families, and the power of food, all nestled within a courageous and intensely loyal Chicanx community.
Set in a close-knit community in Austin, Tex., debut author Kemp's exquisite YA contemporary romance follows two Latinx teens after their lives intersect at a beloved neighborhood restaurant. When 18-year-old Penelope "Pen" Prado makes the difficult decision to come clean to her Mexican American parents about having skipped a semester's worth of community college classes, as well as her real dream of owning a bakery, she is promptly fired from her father's restaurant, Nacho's Tacos. Mean-while, 18-year-old Alejandro "Xander" Amaro, a new hire at Nacho's, longs to find his absent father and lives with constant worry about his own undocumented status. When Xander runs into Pen on his first and her last day working at Nacho's, romance ensues. Told in the protagonists' alternating, refreshingly candid voices ("So I have to decide what's scarier: living a life that doesn't belong to me, or losing the one I love"), Kemp's novel serves up finely rendered, stirring character arcs for both, as well as an intimate portrait of two teens grappling with mental health, complicated family relationships, and newfound love. Much like Elizabeth Acevedo's With the Fire on High, Kemp has created a truly special combination of deliciously described food, expressive prose, and dreamy romance. Ages 14 up.)