When I was in grade school one month out of the year we would be told that our book report had to be a “multi cultural book.” This vaguely racist category basically meant we had to read a book that wasn’t about white people. That’s it. The main character couldn’t be white.
As I read With The Fire On High which is fun, compelling and interesting I thought this was the perfect book for such an assignment. The main character, Emoni, is an Afro-Puerto Rican girl living in Philadelphia. She had a baby at fourteen and wants to be a chef and the book is about her senior year.
It’s a great slice of life story, and Emoni is a really compelling protagonist. Her dreams are small but still in her mind out of reach. She loves her daughter but wonders if her life would be easier without her. She resents her absent father. She’s falling in love after years of hiding from boys because of her kid. She’s worried about her grandmother, who raised her. She loves her friends, has petty feuds with her classmates.
As I’m trying to teach myself to cook and write about food, I find books about food all the more compelling. Emoni’s story is punctuated by recipes, all of which sound delicious. (If I’d been home while reading this I would have absolutely given a few of them a whirl.) And as I try to expand my YA palate, I was happy to find Aceveda. (I’m planning on picking up her other book, Poet X as well.)
Up next is IT because CAN’T SLEEP CLOWN WILL EAT ME!