Seventeen-year-old Afro-Boricua Emoni Santiago hones her gift for cooking and makes important decisions about her future.
Emoni’s ’Buela says she’s had a gift for cooking since she was small. Now Emoni has her own toddler, Emma (“The kind of name that doesn’t tell you too much before you meet her, the way mine does”), nicknamed Babygirl. Emoni’s first day of senior year at her Philadelphia high school is also Babygirl’s first day of day care, leaving Emoni saddened about missing parts of her life. Emoni’s a classic example of the school system’s failure to harness many students’ creativity and interests, but thankfully she discovers and enrolls in a new class called “Culinary Arts: Spain Immersion.” Though the teacher, Chef Ayden, respects her, he’s strict, and Emoni nearly drops the class, but eventually she gathers the ingredients—connections and skills—she’ll need for success. A romance that doesn’t fit the usual mold and a class trip to Spain round out this flavorful tale. Emoni occasionally breaks from first-person narration to address readers directly, and her voice and story feel fresh and contemporary. Diversity in representation is primarily racial and ethnic; however, Emoni’s best friend Angelica is a lesbian. The short, precise prose chapters will draw in even reluctant readers, and the inclusion of several recipes adds to the appeal. Current pop-culture references and cultural relevance will attract both window and mirror readers.
Sabroso. (Fiction. 14-adult)