From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.
Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago's life has been about making the tough decisions--doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it's not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
"Acevedo has done it again: the multi-award-winning author of The Poet X (2018) here delivers perfection, from the cover art featuring a young Afro-Latina woman looking out, her curls picked up in a scarf, and kitchen staples framing her face, to Acevedo's keen, stirring prose that reads like poetry and demands to be read slowly. In a distinct, perceptive, and vulnerable first-person narrative, Emoni, a young single mom being raised by her grandmother while raising her own daughter, relates the story of her last year of high school in vignettes and short chapters, trading off between sharing bits of the story and her musings about her life and her future. Emoni has a gift for cooking, and her food, like magic, conjures emotions in people she shares it with. Her teachers, friends, and family are all ready to support her when the subject of culinary arts schooling comes up, but the one Emoni needs to learn to trust is herself. Acevedo compassionately challenges her readers with a wide variety of topics, including cultural and personal identity and the needs and desires of older women, something that is so often forgotten. Fittingly, for a book so deeply about food, she also includes Emoni's recipes. This sophomore novel is simply stunning. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Acevedo's debut won a National Book Award and the Printz Award and her many fans will be salivating for this superb follow-up.--Kristina Pino Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In this stunning sophomore novel from National Book Award and Printz winner Acevedo (The Poet X), Afro-Puerto Rican and African-American Emoni Santiago, a high school senior, lives in Philadelphia with her two-year-old daughter, Emma-nicknamed Babygirl-and paternal grandmother, 'Buela. A talented cook, Emoni balances school, work at a local burger joint, and motherhood-including shared custody with her ex-boyfriend, Tyrone-with moments in the kitchen, where her "magical hands" create dishes that allow the eater to access deep, surprising memories. But she's not sure what to do with her passion, or after high school, until enrolling in a culinary arts elective helps her to hone her innate cooking skills in the classroom and during a hard-won weeklong apprenticeship in Spain. As she gains practice at leadership and fund-raising, she also cautiously develops a budding relationship with new student Malachi, a boy who respects Emoni's boundaries. Acevedo expertly develops Emoni's close female relationships, which are often conveyed through the sharing of food and recipes, and which shape and buoy Emoni's sense of her own direction and strength. With evocative, rhythmic prose and realistically rendered relationships and tensions, Acevedo's unvarnished depiction of young adulthood is at once universal and intensely specific. Ages 13-up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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