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. 


Mini Review

4,5 stars


This was a book club read with the BAB Book Club and I loved every second of it.


First let’s take a moment to acknowledge the beauty of that cover! I don’t know what’s prettiest: with the dust jacket on or off!


This book is told from a single point of view, Emoni with very short chapters. That gave me the impression of reading a journal sometimes and made the story very easy to fall into as we walk in Emoni’s shoes every minute.

The writing of Elizabeth Acevedo is a mix between to the point, wistfulness and poesy.


I loved the sisterhood between these women: Angelica, Emoni’s bets friend, ‘Buela Emoni’s grandma who has raised her and helped her raise Babygirl.


I also wanted to eat nearly all the time as this book is about Emoni’s magic in the kitchen. You will read about spices and recipes. How food can make you feel and remember some moments of your life.

This is also a book to open your eyes about prejudices but something that nagged at me somehow is that the author collected all clichés in her heroine: black, from Puerto Rican ascend, teenage mom and struggling to learn in school. Poor too or at least with no spare money. Living with her grand mother as her mother died giving birth and her dad fled back to Puerto Rico.


On the one hand, it was a little “too much” but on the other hand, maybe it’s a true representation of a majority of girls of color? I don’t know enough about POC in the US to be a good judge.

What it truly did though was open the debate about all the difficulties these girls are facing opposed to their “white” counterparts.


That book was a beautiful read and one I am really happy to have done even if it’s with a big delay from the release of that book.

Recommend it?



Have you read it already?


Thanks for reading!


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  1. This book looks like a great read, nice review! I like books that have a sisterhood the main character can rely on in a difficult life. It’s almost soothing to see how that support can make such a difference in a character’s life. Thank you for reviewing this book… I’m putting this on my to-read list!

    Side note: Not sure if this will help ease some of the cliche fears, but I couldn’t help adding my thoughts! I work in education; I feel Emoni’s circumstances mirror the real world scenarios. Students living in poverty or low-income, especially those who are also POC and have prejudices to contend with on top of it, do struggle at school for a variety of reasons. Often in impoverished situations students are living with relatives, especially grandparents (again, for a variety of reasons). Emoni’s hardships are unfortunately the reality of many.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts!!! That was really hepful and I appreciate it! I would love following you but when I try to follow your profile, I get nowhere. Could you leave the url to your blog if you have one? Thank you ;-)

  2. I wouldn’t say this book reflects the experience of the *majority* of girls of color, but there are certainly Black-Latina girls who struggle in school and are teen moms. And I thought it was nice to read a book about a black teen who isn’t African-American, because there are a lot of Black immigrants in the US.

  3. I loved this book, and I liked the way Acevedo showed that being a teen mom is not easy, but if you work hard and have support, you can still follow your dreams.