Twelve-year-old Alba Green has no interest in leaving New York City to spend the summer in Barcelona with Abuela Lola, whom she hasn’t seen in most of a decade. But when her emotionally distant mother sends her off, Alba—who is a quarter Filipino and a quarter Spanish (and presumably half white), and who prefers her short, messy hair and vintage David Bowie tee to more femme-presenting clothes—has no choice but to comply. Initially wary of her grandmother’s warmth, Alba slowly begins to trust, learning how to bake bread from her mother’s dearest childhood friend, Toni, and finding out about her mother’s life before Alba’s “controlling, abusive jerk” father demanded that her mother cut ties with her past. Guerrero (How to Make Friends with the Sea) layers her contemporary novel of leavening a life with references to heritage, interweaving Catalan, English, Spanish, and Tagalog with deliciously described dishes and vivid imagery of Barcelona’s neighborhoods to reinforce the theme of community’s importance. Difficult topics, such as the effects of abuse and child neglect, are handled authentically through the eyes of a preteen girl without belittling the complicated emotional ramifications she experiences in everyday interactions. Back matter provides translations to non-English phrases. Ages 8–12. Agent: Wendy Schmalz, Wendy Schmalz Agency. (Mar.)
"All You Knead is Love blended culture and cooking seamlessly into Alba's environment. Tanya Guerrero, does a beautiful job showcasing food's true purpose: connection, comfort, and creativity."— Nikki Bidun, winner of Top Chef Junior and Chopped Jr.
"A heartfelt story about learning to love, trust, and thrive after trauma. This book transported me to Barcelona and made me laugh, cheer, tear up, and crave delicious bread! What a joy to get to know resilient, relatable Alba as she opens up to new experiences and becomes even more fully herself." — Laurie Morrison, author of Up For Air and Saint Ivy
"Layered with explorations of topics such as family dynamics, abuse, and identity, Alba’s first-person narrative is one of growth, forgiveness, and acceptance...A delightful read." — Kirkus Reviews
"A cast of unique characters, beautiful surroundings, and delicious food will have readers wishing they were part of Alba’s world." — Booklist
Praise for How to Make Friends with the Sea:
"Guerrero touches on many topics—anxiety, fostering, friendship, family, selective mutism, and more—seamlessly weaving them all together to create a strong, moving narrative. [...] A heartbreaking, heartwarming, powerful debut novel." — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
"A story for anyone who's ever asked where—and what—home is." — Jack Cheng, author of See You in the Cosmos
"How to Make Friends with the Sea is a heartwarming story about family, friendship, identity and finding courage within our own hearts. I know readers will have as much fun cheering for Pablo as I did." — Dan Gemeinhart, author of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
"Touching and sweet, Tanya Guerrero’s debut How to Make Friends with the Sea is a multi-layered story with heaps of heart. Readers will root for Pablo as he finds his courage, voice, and family on this journey to self-acceptance." — Elly Swartz, author of Finding Perfect and Give and Take
"Atmospheric and moving, How to Make Friends with the Sea is an impressive debut. The friendship between Pablo and Chiqui completely captured my heart." — Jasmine Warga, author of Other Words for Home
Gr 4–6—Twelve-year-old Alba feels discarded when her mother sends her across the ocean to live in Barcelona with the grandmother she hardly knows. With time, Alba builds a close relationship with her grandmother and other family friends she meets along the way. Alba finally gets to know the former version of her mother through Toni, her mother's childhood best friend, as they spend time together baking bread for his bakery. Eventually, Alba's mother joins her in Barcelona with a battered face and hopes to build a new life without Alba's abusive father. When Toni's bakery is in danger of closing, Alba and her mother team up to devise a rescue plan. Guerrero weaves traumatic flashbacks of domestic violence together with scenes of opportunity and hope in this coming-of-age drama about forgiveness, friendship, and family. Any reader will relate to Alba's experiences finding her true self and her first taste of romance. The author does a beautiful job educating readers about the differences between gender identity and sexuality in a way that is suitable for middle grade readers. A diverse range of characters facilitate Alba's growth through her relationships. The Spanish language sprinkled throughout helps craft an authentic tone and will not impact non-Spanish speakers' understanding of the text. VERDICT A charming, original title that will draw fans of Janae Marks's From the Desk of Zoe Washington.—Angie Jameson, Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools, OH
Twelve-year-old Alba Green is sent to Barcelona to live with her estranged grandmother.
Ever since she was a little girl, Alba has been running away. She always returned home to her cold, indifferent mother and abusive father, though, because she had nowhere else to go. When Alba’s mother sends her away to Barcelona to live with the maternal grandmother she hasn’t seen since she was small, thanks to her father’s controlling behavior, Alba at first meets her Abuela Lola’s warmth and kindness with suspicion. Slowly, however, she begins to accept her new reality, making friends and learning to bake bread with the owner of the local bakery. Despite feeling lost and unsure of herself, Alba grows in confidence—not only in terms of her gender-neutral personal style, which her parents disapproved of, but also in her passion for bread-making—and she begins to carve out small moments of happiness for herself. Everything comes to a halt when an unexpected visitor arrives in Barcelona and Alba learns her favorite bakery is in jeopardy. Layered with explorations of topics such as family dynamics, abuse, and identity, Alba’s first-person narrative is one of growth, forgiveness, and acceptance. Vivid descriptions of people, places, aromas, and food bring to life a colorful and beautiful multicultural neighborhood in Spain where English, Spanish, Catalan, Tagalog, and Mandarin intermingle. Alba is one-quarter Spanish, one-quarter Filipina, and presumably half White.
A delightful read. (glossary) (Fiction. 8-12)