I received a digital advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Takeout by Tracy Badua. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In The Takeout, Mila loves helping out at her family’s food truck. They make delicious Indian-Filipino fusion food, and are mostly managing to scrape by. Then, when Mila’s favorite celebrity chefs—the Fab Foodie Brothers—move to her town, she’s delighted. Even more so when the brothers announce that they’re opening a new restaurant nearby. Mila’s excitement, however, is dashed when she tries their food. The brothers seem to somehow have stolen many of Mila’s family’s recipes, and are passing them off as their own. But Mila isn’t sure that she can prove their crime, since their food truck is so small. However, with the help of a new friend and some Filipino folk magic, she just might be able to stand up for herself.
This was really cute!
I loved how passionate Mila is about food, it really comes through (and makes the reader hungry, to be honest). She’s very clever and sweet, even if her decision-making skills are very on par with most tweens. Yelling about the recipes being stolen in front of a crowd isn’t usually the best move, but it’s fun to watch her learn and grow through the book. I also really liked Ajay, the boy she teams up with. They make a good pair, butting heads sometimes but ultimately united about their mission.
The other characters are decent. I especially liked Mila’s older sister, but everyone is good. The Fab Foodie Brothers are somewhat two-dimensional villains, but they serve a purpose and do help to illustrate the struggles that small businesses often have to contend with.
The parts of the story that feature Filipino folk magic were also cool. I enjoyed seeing, though using this magic and through living in a mostly White community, how complex Mila’s relationship with her heritage is. It’s a nice look at how strange it can be to identify as a person of color but not know much about that background. Plus, the way the magic is incorporated into the plot is fun.
In the end, The Takeout isn’t the most complicated or ground-breaking story I’ve ever read, but it is sweet and charming. The main two characters are easy to like and to root for, and the obstacles they face make you do so even more. I liked learning a bit more about Indian and Filipino culture and cuisine, and to see what it might be like to work on a food truck. This is a light read, with lots of heart, and I think most middle grade kids would enjoy this.
The Takeout will be published on May 9th, 2023!