I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Sweet and Sour by Debbi Michiko Florence. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In Sweet and Sour, Mai has spent the last two years furious with her former best friend Zach after he betrayed her, as if their lifelong friendship has meant nothing. Of course, Zach knows none of this, as he has spent the last two years living with his parents in Japan, and he and Mai haven’t seen each other the entire time. So when Zach’s family moves back, and Mai is to spend the summer with him, she decides it’s time for some sweet revenge. But Zach seems unaware anything is wrong, and in fact seems to be even kinder than before. Perhaps their friendship can be healed, if Mai can let her anger go.
This was a cute summer read. Mai is full of quirks and intelligence, and I liked her curiosity about nature. Her bond with her best friend Lila is realistic and endearing too, as is her bond with her parents and Zach’s younger brothers.
But the best relationship in the book is, naturally, between Mai and Zach. I like how they come to understand each other better, and how they work out their problems (um, spoilers, I guess?). Honestly, I think Mai’s grudge against him was a little ridiculous—it was a bad thing Zach did, but could have been fixed with a single, brief conversation much earlier than this, as the book proved. Still, the theme of letting go of anger in favor of properly communicating with people you care about is an important one, so I guess it’s fine.
In the end, Sweet and Sour is a charming book. It’s a quick read, with a fun summer home setting, where nature and family outings give a sense of possibility. The characters are sweet (not sour), and although the themes are a little obviously expressed, it’s a good story that I had fun reading!
Sweet and Sour will be published on July 26th, 2022!