With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
|I enjoyed this so much. It has been a long time since I have cared and felt so many things about a character. I have not read Elizabeth’s debut The Poet X, but now I am itching to get my hands on it!
Emoni is our Afro-Latina main character and mama to sweet Emma. I loved her so much. We have a character that gets pregnant at 14 and handles it better then a lot of adults I know. She wants to do the best she can for her baby, even if it means putting herself last. She is a character that I wanted to scoop up, and help in anyway that I could so she could follow her dreams because she deserved it! She is someone that at 31, I want to be like, in the sense that she has her priorities and knows what she wants to do. She is a devoted mother and granddaughter. I also loved her relationship with her ‘Buela! There is so much love there and you can see where they both struggle with with fact that Emoni is still a child in many ways, but has many adult responsibilities and it is hard place to be in. No matter the situation, her grandmother is always there for her, supporting her and cheering her on.
Angelica is Emoni’s best friend, more like a sister really. She is a queer POC, and although we didn’t get to see much, her relationship with this other woman is just the sweetest thing. Angelica and Emoni’s friendship meant so much to me. It is this friendship that makes me think of soulmates. It is being there for that other person, pushing them, making sure they are living their best life, and holding each other up while the other one falls apart. Everyone needs a person like this in their life.
The men in this book were something else. Emoni’s relationship with her father made me so sad, but was interesting to see unfold. Tyrone, Emma’s dad, was your classic “playboy” I guess you could say. The kind where he will charm, and be so good to you until he get what he wants. He used Emoni, treated her like garbage, and did nothing to defend her from his horrible mother. Really the only good thing I can say is that he is an okay dad. He makes sure to be a good part of his daughters life, and it is interesting to get to see him change a bit in his role as a dad. Malachi, ugh, I really enjoyed his character. He is compassionate, and never pushed Emoni into anything that she didn’t want to get near. It was refreshing to read about two people that communicate what they are looking for and being straight forward when it comes to expectations, feelings, things like that.
Over all, I LOVED this. It is a story of forgiveness, and growing up, fighting to follow your dreams and to know that it is okay to put yourself first sometimes. Honestly, this book is still a little hard for me to put in to words. I love it that much. It is not only heart warming, but covers so many different topics and does it so so well, that everything flows nicely. This is a book I cannot recommend enough.