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"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green


Heart and Salsa by Suzanne Nelson (Review)

TitleHeart and Salsa (S.A.S.S.) 
Edition: Paperback, 224 pages
Author(s): Suzanne Nelson
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: June 1, 2006
Source: Bought from Books-A-Million

The Summary
Cat Wilcox has left chilly Boston for sunny Mexico and a summer of girl bonding with her best friend, Sabrina. But Sabrina has a surprise. She is accompanied by her boyfriend-a boyfriend Cat didn't even know existed. So rather than Sabrina and Cat spending their study-abroad semester working together at the orphan school building site, Cat expects she'll be hammering nails all by her lonesome. Then she meets Aidan. He's cute, he's smart, and he's paying her a lot of attention. Cat can't tell if he's flirting or friendly, but she's not sure it matters. Isn't it easier to be just friends? But this is enchanted Mexico and, between hiking in the rain forest, diving off waterfalls, and finishing the orphan center, it's going to take a little bit of salsa spirit, and a lot of heart, for Cat to make it through the summer unchanged.
My Opinion
I started the S.A.S.S. series with Westminster Abby which was awesome!  Heart and Salsa is just as good.  Suzanne Nelson did a wonderful job mixing the exploration of a new country and the exploration of self.

In Heart and Salsa Cat is looking for a way to escape her family problems, and what better way then a trip to Mexico?  Cat travels to Mexico to work with Helping Hands, an organization that helps out the Mexican community, to help build a school for the local orphans.  Also while in the program, she and the other students go on ecological, cultural, and political side trips around Mexico.  It was very cool to read about these trips.  It felt like I was on them with Cat.  My favorite was when they visited the rainforest, and you'll see why when you read the book.

Learning about a new country is really what makes the S.A.S.S. so great!  The way Nelson presents the combination of Cat's personal struggles and the struggles of a still developing country is really touching.  All the S.A.S.S. books are like this.  They take the great difficulty of mixing fun and responsibility.  I think Nelson did this better than Michol Ostow did in Westminster Abby.

Cat's big struggle revolves around relationships: familial, romantic and friend.  In the latter two struggles I could relate because I've delt with very similar problems.  however, the family problem was way off my radar.  I haven't even had friends who have gone through it (I don't want to tell you what it is as it will spoil some stuff).  So I felt Cat's reactions were really over-the-top.  But then I asked around to acquaintances and such, and they told me she reacted pretty true to life.  I mention this because I found it interesting that no matter how well parts of a book are written, sometimes the reader is just not going to get it.

Overall, a fun read full of "not-dates", eco-adventures, and unique Spanish cuisine.  Another great addition to the S.A.S.S. series as well.  Look for the series at your local bookstore, and look for more reviews to come!

Final Rating
Book Cover: 3.5/5
Book Title: 4/5
Plot: 8.5/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Overall: 43/50: B

1 comment:

  1. I have several of these S.A.S.S. books in my library but haven't ever read one. Thanks for the great thoughts!


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