Age Recommendation: 15+
I have no words to describe just how brilliant I found this book… I thought that there were so many different themes and topics that were brought up during the entirety of the book. Some were subtle some where not so subtle and I just thought it was a really important read for all teenagers.
One of the key themes in this book was Race and Racism. Especially during this time of protest against the mistreatment and inequality that POC are still facing today I think it’s super important to explore literature with a more diverse range of characters but also books that bring up these exact themes. Throughout the book the author really brings to light all the challenges that Emoni faces purely because of her race and for me I found it really quite eye opening. Points were brought up which I wouldn’t have even thought about being a problem and it really helped to further teach me about the inequality in this modern world.
Another one of the main themes included in this book was teen pregnancy. There are so many negative views and connotations linked to teen pregnancy which aren’t all necessarily true. I think when it comes to teen pregnancy lots of authors shy away from presenting the real issues whereas Acevedo was not at all shy about sharing her viewpoints and using Emoni as a mouthpiece for her opinions. Acevedo was also able to challenge a lot of the common (and typically negative) stereotypes about teen mothers by creating a character like Emoni who is both quiet and sensitive but also passionate and determined. I thought that this was incredible and I think it will help massively to impact the way people normally think about teen pregnancy.
The last big theme that was represented throughout the book was toxic/abusive relationships. The father of Emoni’s child (Emma) is shown to be quite a toxic character throughout the majority of the book. I think it’s especially important to teach young people about the red flags in a relationship and even if they are subtle it can still have a lasting impact. Acevedo was able to mirror what a lot of girls may feel when they exit a toxic relationship through Emoni’s character and I think that this really helped the reader to emphasise with Emoni. Also by Acevedo making it quite obvious to the reader but not to Emoni that it was a toxic relationship, it helped to reader to pick up on it and recognise quite early on the signs of the abuse in the relationship.
However I really loved the character development for Tyrone ( Emoni’s ex-boyfriend). As throughout the great majority of the book he is presented as a quite horrible person who makes little contribution to the bringing up of his daughter. However at the very end Tyrone decides that he will take more responsibility and help more with the bringing up of Emma even though Emoni and Tyrone broke up a considerable amount of time before the novel starts. This really demonstrated to the reader that everybody can change if they really put the work in and that even if he was quite horrible at the start he can grow up and take responsibility for his past actions.
Overall this book was so diverse and beautiful and I really loved the way Emoni was so passionate about cooking. I loved the entire layout of the novel and how each character seemed to have a happy ending. I loved how Emoni figured out a way to get exactly what she needed and what she wanted while still being able to look after Emma! I gave this book an age rating of 15+ due to a few mature topics and a few minor bits of strong language but I thought it really was an amazing read and thought that it was so important for people to read!!
Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni’s life has been about making the tough decisions – doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands – whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone. Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything, but she knows it’s pointless to pursue the impossible. There are rules she has to play by. And yet, once she starts cooking, and gets that fire on high, she sees that her drive to feed will feed her soul and dreams too. And anything is possible.
About The Author
Elizabeth Acevedo is a New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Poet X, won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She is also the recipient of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award. Additionally, she was honoured with the 2019 Pure Belpré Author Award for celebrating, affirming, and portraying Latinx culture and experience.
She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.