I absolutely loved this book! It’s so amazing and different for a YA book (in the best possible way). The main character, Emoni, is not your typical YA heroine. First of all, she got pregnant at 15 and is now a senior in high school with a toddler. Second, she’s got a passion for cooking, which I can’t think I’ve come across in a YA book before. The one place Emoni can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen and Elizabeth Acevedo makes an amazing job describing the joy of cooking.
All foodie scenes added such a wonderful vibe to the story, with the descriptions of the food Emoni cooked and how she tasted it, added spices and unconventional ingredients, and the beautiful foodie illustrations and recipes sprinkled throughout the book.
Another thing that was quite different about this book (yet again, in the best possible way) was how realistic it was. It really showed the struggles and sacrifices Emoni has to do for her baby, and how hard it is for her to get all parts of life together with school and all her extra work. Being a mom means that she’s never able to per herself first and that she always has the responsibility for someone else, especially as her abuela (grandma) is getting older and as she’s not on the best terms with her daughter’s father. And when the chance comes for a culinary class and trip to Spain, nothing happens by magic.
I also really loved the way Emoni struggled when starting to have feelings for the new cute guy in class, Malachi. With a little daughter and the bad experience from her previous relationship she’s not ready to jump into a new one easily. The fire is on high when it comes to cooking, but when it comes to love it’s a slow burning one… Almost too slow at times, I really rooted for Malachi and wanted Emoni to let him into her life much sooner. He’s one of the sweetest teen boy characters ever!
All in all, this is a wonderful and gripping story that is endearingly realistic yet heart-warming and hopeful.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Elizabeth Acevedo