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The main character, Emoni Santiago, is a high school senior who loves cooking. Fortunately, her school starts a culinary arts course, and she decides to join and follow her dream of becoming a chef. Throughout the book, she learns how to balance caring for her daughter, work, cooking, and school. I liked how Emoni grew and matured in the book and how she persevered through struggles with her family and being a teen mom. I also liked a lot of the characters, but some of them seemed a little stereotypical and boring. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book! Age 13+
Elizabeth Acevedo knows how to write a serious book with just the right amount of uplifting joy and optimism.
Emoni is a girl who had to grow up quickly. Her mother died giving birth to her, her father couldn't handle raising her so her grandmother does, and she had a baby during her freshman year in high school. But this book is about so much more than that!
Emoni is a girl who knows her way around the kitchen. She makes dishes that make your mouth water as you read the description. I imagine that her food is some of the most flavorful food you could possibly eat. She is clearly gifted! The adults in her life pay attention to that and work to lift her up to reach for her dream.
This book has a very clear message--just because you're a teen mom (or a teenager with a lot to deal with) doesn't mean that your life can't become something far greater than you imagined it would. It is possible to care for another human being while also caring for yourself!
Recommended for teens ages 13+.
Emoni is a senior in high school and is struggling to find her place in the world, in addition to being a single mother and raising her daughter with the help of her abuela and making as much delicious food as she can. Acevedo’s filled this book with fire, love, and spices. She also was a master at capturing what it means to be stuck in between being an American, Black, and being Puerto Rican as well as being simultaneously accepted and rejected by both groups of people. As well as the importance of family and your dreams. Brightness and warmth color every page.
Elizabeth Acevedo is so good at creating unique and real voices for her characters. I loved the way Emoni was written - she jumped off the page with how real she was. I really appreciated this coming-of-age story about a girl who had a baby at 14, but continued on with school, and in her senior year struggled with figuring out what path she wanted to take to be able to provide a good life for her daughter, while also not losing herself.
Let me give you a list of all the reasons I love this book:
1. Emoni is from my hometown and goes to one of my Alma Maters.
2. Emoni doesn't learn like everyone else is "supposed" to learn; you can't expect her to memorize and regurgitate. She has to do it and experience it to get it.
3. Emoni adores her daughter, and her relationship to her daughter reminds me of a friend's relationship to her own daughter.
4. Emoni is a bomb cook (and you might only get that saying if you're from my hometown).
5. The magical realism included in this book is so gentle that you barely notice it but will recognize it if you're a Like Water for Chocolate fan.
6. The supporting characters in this book are perfect for the story's setting and very true to its storyline.
7. It's a teen fiction book that doesn't overdo anything while still being grounded in the realities of life.
Did I already say I adore this book? Read it!
A bit conflicted about this one. I listened to it, which definitely sweetened my opinion; the author is an excellent, genuine narrator. I had lots of love for the strong female characters lifting one another up. Lots of love for the #ownvoice representation and for the super realized setting (Philly). Lots of love for the somewhat unusual teenage hobby (cooking). And really, I'm tempted to leave it at that, because what I loved totally outweighs what I didn't. AND I think this story is needed. Unfortunately, some of the characters and situations were too simple and unbelievable to me, and much of the language about cooking/food/chefs a bit stereotypical. I have these sorts of quibbles with many YA books, though, and I am not the intended audience, so maybe take all of this with a grain of salt? (Ha.)
Emoni Santiago loves to cook, and her recipes are like magic. She has a talent for knowing which ingredients complement each other and how to turn a dish from good to excellent. She dreams of working in a kitchen, but it seems impossible. Emoni has a young daughter, and she and her abuela (grandmother) don't have a lot of money to pay for college. When Emoni enrolls in a culinary arts class at school, her eyes are opened to a world of possibilities. Emoni always put family responsibilities first, but she slowly discovers that she can still be a good mom and fulfill her own dreams.
I honestly really liked this book and it was about a topic that I've always been curious about. The main character Emoni is a teen mom. It's her senior year of high school and as if applying for colleges isn't stressful enough, imagine having a toddler, a part time job and baby daddy drama on top of it! Dating is the last thing on Emoni's mind, but when a new student named Malachi peaks her interest, she does everything possible to keep him away. I really liked this novel because it really delved into mind of a teen mom. As a reader you experience Emoni's fears of dating again, after having a child and having a bad relationship experience with her baby's father. As a reader you experience what it would be like to go through a teen pregnancy, the judgmental words of adults, and the mean stares from classmates in the school's hallway, etc. It was honestly just so interesting to read about. The main character Emoni, was such an inspiration too, because even though she's had a hard life, she is hardworking and determined and believes in herself and her capabilities. To be honest if I was in Emoni's shoes, I don't know if I would be able to keep such a positive attitude, and keep on top of my goals as well as she has in this novel. I think Emoni was a great character, Elizabeth Acevedo did such a great job with character development. I even loved all of her side characters throughout the novel. I don't think I've ever read anything from a 'Teen mom's' perspective, so it was definitely a very unique perspective to read about and one I really enjoyed. Also in this book Emoni has a talent for cooking and there are actual recipes throughout this novel giving this book a little something EXTRA. This book honestly felt so short. I wish there was more, Emoni was just such a great character, and Malachi seemed like such a great guy. I really loved the romance and the dynamic between those two characters.
From TKB Teen Stella: This book is about a girl named Emoni who is navigating her senior year of high school while being a teen mom to her daughter Emma or “babygirl”. The most compelling aspect of the book is just how well Emoni handles everything life throws at her, and getting to see a teen mom’s perspective of high school.
I have not yet read The Poet X, but I’ve heard enough hype about it that I was excited to get my hands on Acevedo’s newest novel. I have a feeling this book will also be widely acclaimed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it too is nominated for a Printz Award.
This book conveys many positive messages about family, identity, hard work, and following your dreams. I thought the whole thing was very smartly packaged and it’s short chapters will make it very appealing to reluctant readers. In fact, I would say this book could be categorized as a hi/lo reader (high interest, low reading level) for teens.
Although I was well past my teens when I had my first child, I shared many of the same feelings of inadequacy and frustration that Emoni struggles with throughout the story. As a full-time librarian, I often feel that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with my son. It is incredibly difficult to balance work and family, and Emoni has the additional pressure of school and being a single parent. While many teenagers must make difficult decisions about college and the future, Emoni’s responsibility to her daughter makes the stakes so much higher. I really like the direction Emoni’s character chooses in the end, and I hope it encourages others to follow a similar path.
I loved the fact that each part of the book is prefaced by a recipe. This book really got me hyped to try new things in the kitchen, and really changed the way I think about cooking as a whole. Very inspiring!
Whenever Emoni Santiago cooks, magic happens. Her abuela has always told her she has a gift, and she dreams of becoming a world-renowned chef. Philadelphia native and young mother, Emoni works hard to make a better life for herself and Babygirl. When the opportunity arises to take a culinary arts course during her last year of high school, Emoni takes the chance to follow her dream. What I loved the most is how comfortable Emoni is in her own skin — she jumped right off the page and into my heart. Filled with love and sprinkled with cinnamon dust, this book is one you’ll remember.
After Acevedo's gorgeous novel in verse, The Poet X, I wasn't expecting to see prose when I opened this book, but oh it is just as lovely. She has a way with words that cut right to the point of deepest emotion. These characters feel, and I feel with them. Emoni's devotion to her daughter and abuela are as relatable to her ambivalence towards her father. She is deeply rooted in her Phillie neighborhood, and though she has never seen the island in person, her Puerto Rican ancestry is just as significant, especially when she cooks. And, oh, the food! Somebody create a gastronomical simulator so I can eat the contents of this book! Even though not much happens in this novel in terms of conflict or dramatic plot points, I was deeply engaged. While Emoni's best friend and love interest are a bit too perfect, all other characters, especially her abuela and teachers, ring true. I like this one a lot.
I could not put this book down. I needed to know what choices Emoni would make and where they would lead her. I still want to know how some of those choices ended up, but this story came to an end and she is embarking on the journey of adulthood. Would read another story about this fierce, amazing woman and her sweet Babygirl.
I did like this book and it was really good but I guess I just wanted more from it. Not even that it lacked in specific areas but it was all very surface, even though there were some hard hitting issues, I felt like they were touched on once or twice but other that that they didn't really play into the story at all other than to be mentioned. (The custody thing and Emoni's dad leaving but staying in contact and her never really confronting that until the very end briefly)
One thing I did really enjoy was the cooking. Everything that surrounded the cooking and the culinary arts class and the Spain trip and Emoni working in the restaurant in Spain. It was so perfect and maybe that is what I wanted more of the story to be. More of her exploring her love for cooking and less of the romance. I did like the romance but I'm realizing that, for me, it took away from what I actually wanted in the story. I kinda feel the same about Abuela, for my personal liking there was too much on her character. I enjoyed the encouragement and support for Emoni and her relationship with her son/Emoni's dad, but I think the tidbits about her romance, which I caught on to right away and was dragged on until the end of the book, could've been omitted. I want more cooking and more about Emoni & Emma and their dynamic and the COOKING.
I did enjoy Emma and her role in Emoni's story and I 100% am glad that it was included and it didn't take away at all. It talked about the struggle of teenage pregnancy but it showed how it worked out for Emoni and Emma (and every Tyrone) in the end. I liked getting to know tidbits about Emma but would've, again, enjoyed her more if she was more apart of the story instead of focusing on the romance. I LIKED THE ROMANCE I SWEAR.
I promise I liked this book, I know all I've done so far in this review is mostly critique and complain but I did like it. But yet here I am, about to critique something else. There were some points in the story where I didn't like Emoni ??? I can't even tell you why but for like 15% of the book she annoyed me. It could be her stubbornness but jeez she bugged me sometimes. Like how she wouldn't confront her Dad or even talk to him about why she was upset with him. Emoni stop being passive-aggressive and talk to your Dad! OTHER than the times I didn't like her, I liked her a lot (duh 😂)! When she got into cooking, it was truly like magic dripped from her finger tips. I wish I could've been there to see it unfold or to taste something that she made. ALSO I'M GLAD THEY INCLUDED RECIPES???!!! I don't know if I'll ever make them but the mere fact they included recipes enriched the whole story even more for me.
A heart-warming book for teens about a young mother still in high school who loves food and cooking and is looking for a way to pursue her dreams against all odds.
Another hit from Acevedo. If you listen to audio books at all, get this in audio because she's a phenomenal reader. This story was full of warmth and heart and people doing their best to get by and maybe even dream a little, plus mouth-watering food descriptions. A real treat.
This book was beautifully written. If you have the chance, I recommend trying the audio version as well. It was narrated by the author, who is also the same combinations of ethnicity as the main character in the book, Emoni Santiago. You get a deeper level of understanding as she dives into the constant questioning of her heritage. Is she "black enough", is she "Puerto Rican" enough, and where does she fit in as a young single mom in high school with big culinary dreams. The words in this book were lyrical. I could taste the food as it was described in it's ingredients. I could feel the passion and love as she prepared dishes and created "recipes" through out the book that were relevant to her current mood or circumstance. This was a great story about overcoming circumstances and making good choices despite what the world may think is best for you.
A beautiful and realistic rendering of a lower class, multicultural family. No sugar coating the reality and no dramatizing the hardships. Once started, I could not put this gorgeous novel down. Reading it filled me with love and a sprinkle of cinnamon dust.
This book is as lovely as its cover - a real treat for the eyes and the imagination. The story is brimming with rounded and flawed characters who face life in ways that feel at times inspiring, at others disheartening. The dishes the heroine concocts leapt off the page and onto my taste buds, making this a true "feast" for the senses!
Unflinchingly captures the stress the high school years can bring, especially for working-class kids with adult responsibilities. But the pages are also filled with light and love. Emoni is a well-balanced character, a girl who’s grown up fast and hard but still has a lot to figure out. Her cooking is interwoven with her cultural heritage (Afro-Puerto Rican and African-American) and connects her to her dead mother and absent father. The descriptions of food were rich and mouthwatering, the traces of magical realism affecting and never heavy-handed. I didn’t doubt Emoni’s commitment to becoming a chef for an instant, and I liked her relationships with her mentors, who never come off as comically harsh or unrealistically knowing. All the relationships in this book are well-written, from tense family dynamics to strained but civil co-parenting to a sweet, slow romance.
The beautiful story of a young woman named Emoni and her search for self discovery after becoming pregnant in freshman year. As a fan of The Poet X (Acevedo's debut novel), I waited with anticipation for the second novel from the award winning author and I was not disappointed. This is a touching novel of what it means to face adversity, make tough decisions and persevere at a very tender age.
I could cry. This book is so lush and warm and bright and honest and full of love. Acevedo is one of the best authors I’ve read in a long time. So beautiful.
Emoni is a single mama, a girl who adores cooking, and a high school senior. This life is so full of pressure and heartache, but so full of love. Highly recommend, not just for the story, but also for the beautiful writing.