Summary: All You Knead Is Love
All You Knead Is Love follows 12-year-old Alba whose mother forces her to move from NYC to Barcelona, Spain where her grandmother lives. Alba is gender non-conforming, which means that she doesn’t like the typical “girly” dresses or frilly tops her parents often want her to wear. She’s happiest in her jeans and t-shirts. Alba’s father is physically abusive, especially towards her mother, and generally treats Alba with disregard.
When Alba arrives Barcelona, she’s quickly drawn in by the vibrant city and its warm people, one of whom is her grandmother. She also begins visiting the neighborhood bakery owned by Toni, her mother’s childhood friend. Soon, Toni begins to teach her how to bake and she befriends a girl named Marie whose parents run Alba’s grandmother’s Chinese restaurant; as well as Toni’s son Joaquim, who loves music like Alba does. But just when Alba begins to get comfortable, Toni’s bakery is threatened with closure because it just isn’t earning enough money. Alba needs to find a way to save the hub of her newfound community.
This book was such an immersive reading experience. Just reviewing it brings all the memories of Barcelona, Filipino culture, Spanish food, and wonderful sourdough to mind again. I loved all the rich culture and the armchair travel of reading a middle grade book set in Europe. Alba is a strong, dynamic character with an impressive knowledge of who she is and what she wants. I loved seeing her blossom and lean into a community that welcomed her with open arms.
Abuela Lola is a warm character and like many of the characters in this book, she embodies what true love is, showing up for her granddaughter, friends, and even her daughter who is several miles away. I loved all the food in this book, and I liked seeing how the author handles Alba and Joaquim’s friendship, as well as Alba’s friendship with Marie and what she learns from it.
Alba and her mother have a strained relationship and the way they find their way back to each other is one of the strong points of this story, right behind Alba’s sweet relationship with Toni. Finally, this book does touch on domestic violence, so it may be triggering for some readers. However, it is worth noting that that is far from the main theme of the story. Most of the book is set in Barcelona and no graphically violent scenes are depicted within.
Overall: All You Knead Is Love
All You Knead Is Love is a heartwarming middle grade novel about identity, family, community, and of course, food. Set in the magical city of Barcelona, this new release is perfect for fans of middle grade books set in Europe! It also features a lovable grandmother, realistically depicted friendships, and a sweet inter-generational friendship. If you enjoy middle grade books about food, come prepared, this one will have you salivating throughout.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Have you read this book or Guerrero’s debut How to Make Friends with the Sea? I loved it as well.