When I first saw a review on this book, I knew that I was going to like it and immediately put it on my TBR list. I even predicted later that this was going to be five stars, even though I don’t rate my books that much any more.
Well, I finally got to read this book and everything I thought was spot on. I absolutely adored this book and everything in it, from the cooking, the characters and the overall themes. I found that I had a lump in my throat almost the whole time that I was reading this book and not necessarily because it was sad. Rather, I felt for Emoni and the hardships that she was going through so early in life and hoping, with my fingers crossed, that her dreams would come true.
Emoni is a teenage single mom who is juggling life, from trying to raise a toddler, finishing school to get a high school diploma, and working part-time to help her grandmother with the bills. The one place she can forget it all is when she is in the kitchen. As her grandmother tells it, Emoni has magic in her hands. Whatever she cooks brings up special memories of the past for the person eating her food. Emoni’s dream is to become a chef and when a new culinary elective becomes available at school, Emoni yearns to take it. However, she questions whether it is worth it because she doesn’t have time to go chasing her dreams … she has a child to raise.
I didn’t want this story to end and was kind of shocked when it did. I wanted more! Especially her cooking. While I come from an Italian heritage, the kitchen is a very important part of my culture and was taught at an early age how to cook. There is something about preparing food for others that is so relaxing and pleasing to the soul, so I could totally relate to Emoni in that regard. And given everything she had to go through, I was rooting for her to succeed. I wanted to scream at the teacher every time he pointed out something she did wrong. Give her a break! But even though I didn’t like it, I knew why he was doing it and I was so happy to see how Emoni takes responsibility and step up to the plate.
I am not one to read a lot of young adult novels but I think this is one that anyone can relate to or enjoy. There are a lot of themes that the author covers including family, traditions, success, relationships, and so much more. I am definitely glad I had to read it. Now I need to go recommend it to all my friends.