The Operation Awesome theme for the #atozchallenge 2021 is book reviews (even though we're a blog about the publication journey, not a book review blog--the team loves to read!). I've selected books that I have been itching to read on my cultural humility list that corresponded with the letter.
This book is an excellent choice for young adults. The story follows Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Latinx who takes care of her daughter and her abuela while finishing her senior year of high school. The story demonstrates the values of family, love, and perseverance. The coming of age narratives addresses adolescent concerns of sex, loss, and insecurities in the high school setting. There are recipes included and great descriptions of Emoni’s cooking and spice choices. As a cook and baker myself who is obsessed with Great British Baking Show, Nadiya’s Time to Eat, and Nadiya Bakes, I appreciated the recipes and the cooking and baking portions of the story. The pacing is fantastic and fits well into the small chapters.
I would recommend this book for young adults who can handle discussing sex. I will caution that there is some kissing, and there are two sex scenes in the first and last quarter of the book. The book is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a story with a strong female Afro-Latinx protagonist. I have also read The Poet X and Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, and I love both of them. I occasionally read books in this genre and for the young adult audience. My goal is to read more diverse books and as a white woman, I am eager to continue my cultural humility journey.
I finished the book. Emoni’s struggles with parenthood, family, love, and school were engaging and intriguing. I anticipate getting copies of Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths and Write Yourself a Lantern: A Journal Inspired by the Poet X. I will happily follow Elizabeth Acevedo’s future work.
The theme is captured by the following sentences: “I close my eyes. I don’t want to miss another word. She sings about how everything changes, the shallow and the profound, the shiny and the old; everything but the love for home changes. I’m tapping my foot to the rhythm, and when the song ends Mariana gets up and plays the song again.”
Overall the novel was hard to put down and easy to read several small chapters. I appreciated the Afro-Latinx protagonist as experienced in this book and teen motherhood in a way that I have not encountered before. I appreciate Acevedo’s portrayal of Emoni and her life. The cooking terms and phrases fed my kitchen aficionado heart.
What books have you read with Afro-Latinx protagonists?