I received a gifted galley of RAMÓN AND JULIETA by Alana Quintana Albertson for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing for the opportunity!
Publication Date: 2/1/2022
RAMÓN AND JULIETA shifts between the two titular characters. Ramón is the son of the Taco King empire, a chain of fast food restaurants built on the back of a fish taco recipe. They make decent food for an affordable price, but they take shortcuts to do so and the Mexican community considers them sell outs. They’ve decided to purchase a block in one of San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood, but it will mean pricing out the local small businesses and the community is understandably upset. On top of that, Ramón learns that his father actually stole the original fish taco recipe.
Julieta is a chef and the daughter of the woman that Ramón’s father stole the recipe from. Julieta has built up a thriving restaurant business making traditional foods with fresh ingredients without the shortcuts that Taco King makes. Problem is, her restaurant is on the block that Ramón’s family company just bought. The two meet and form an instant connection before they learn how star-crossed they really are and must try to find a way to make things work.
This book brings a lot of interesting twists to the Romeo and Juliet retelling. I enjoyed the way the author managed to pepper in moments and quotes from the Shakespeare original, all while giving it a unique twist. I really enjoyed the depiction of this neighborhood in San Diego and its culture and traditions as well.
The romance between Ramón and Juliet has some definite insta-love qualities which isn’t always my preference, but given that the original R&J were the very definition of insta-love, that was to be expected. The hangups in the relationship bring in a lot of issues of cultural identity, classism, and loyalty that raise a lot of important issues as well. I think the author did well building the conflict between families, while eliminating the need for a double suicide to bring resolution.
For a fresh take on Romeo and Juliet, look no further! RAMÓN AND JULIETA is out today!