Duration: 7 hours 27 minutes
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.My Thoughts: Who doesn't love reading or listening to a book that combines food into the story? I read Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and greatly enjoyed it, so I looked forward to reading this one. And I have to say, I'm glad that I went the audiobook route on this one because it was fantastic!
I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Emoni was strong, loving, brave, and vulnerable. For being a teen mom, she persevered in getting an education and made sure to take care of her baby girl. Emoni had to grow up fast and had to put her personal feelings to the side to make sure that she provided for her daughter; however, she was brave enough to know that it was still okay to do things that you loved. I also enjoyed reading about Emoni's abuela (Buela) and her best friend Angelica. These two ladies stuck by Emoni's side and supported Emoni with everything. My only complain was the "pretty Leslie" character; she really annoyed me.
Another thing that I appreciated about this book was how it interlaced food into the story. Emoni loved to cook and dreamed about owning her own restaurant. She was a natural cook and experimented with various ingredients, especially spices. As she cooked, her emotions went into the food. This aspect of the book reminded me of Like Water for Chocolate. It didn't have the magical realism that LWFC had, but people who tried Emoni's food also took in her feelings.
The best thing about this book was that it was read by the author herself. Usually, I don't like authors of fiction books to read their own books because I feel that many don't know how to narrate to an audiobook audience. However, Elizabeth Acevedo was an expert! She was able to bring every single character to life, was able to convey their emotions, and was able to change her tone of voice for each character. She also read the Spanglish parts so smoothly that I felt like I was listening to people in my family. Now, I am going to look for her other books and see if Acevedo narrates those as well.
Overall, this was a fantastic audiobook. The characters were wonderful and the mixing of food into the story was superb. I also liked listening to the author read this book. I rate it: