Posts Tagged 'cooking'

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 388

Emoni Santiago’s life has been difficult since she got pregnant as a freshmen in high school. Now, as a senior she is busy going to school, raising her two year old (with help from her grandmother whom she lives with), working, and honing her gift of cooking. She doesn’t know what the future will hold, but just wants to focus on getting through senior year. That is until she learns there is a new elective in culinary studies that includes a spring break trip to Spain to actually work with Spanish chefs. Even though Emoni has a lot on her plate she cannot resist the opportunity to work with a real chef. Unfortunately, she learns quickly that not everyone is as interested in her unique blend of spices that makes her food so special and she is penalized for not following recipes to the letter. She briefly even considers dropping the course, but something pulls her back and she learns that this could be a real career path for her if she works at it. Can she raise the money for her trip to Spain? Can she find a way to juggle school, parenthood, a job, and college applications? Or would it be better for her daughter if she just started working full time after high school?

Emoni’s story is so relatable to anyone who feels like they are being pulled in different directions by their obligations and their dreams. She often feels weighted down by the pressures on her and even though she is fortunate to have people who care for her and want to help her fulfill her dreams she knows a lot of these responsibilities fall on her. The focus on what it takes to become a chef is refreshing as well. This is not a topic you see in a lot of young adult books, but it is a great example of a very valid career path that many students do not think of. Recommended.

Hot Lunch by Alex Bradley

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 276

RAC Book: Yes

Molly is a somewhat sullen teenager who makes it her mission in life to keep others as far away from her as possible. When she is paired up with a new girl on a school project she does her best to push the girl away until they each decide to do their own project. Since this was not the assignment they get poor grades and get into a big fight in the lunchroom. This leads to a punishment of serving lunches for two weeks. Unfortunately, they fail to improve their behavior and in a bizarre turn of events end up having to run the entire lunchroom until the students vote for five days in a row that their food is better than the previous lunch lady’s.

While there are several reasons why I believe something like this would never happen in a high school, it was a very funny concept. The two main characters, Molly and Cassie, represent a group of high school students who don’t feel they belong anywhere. Cassie uses this fact as incentive to try harder to fit in, while Molly decides to actually try not to fit in. Together they learn a lot about the groups that make up high school while at the same time learning about leadership, nutrition, cooking, and friendship. This incredibly funny book questions some of the processes that have remained unchanged in schools for so long when better options have come along. Students will enjoy the humor and might look at food and nutrition differently after reading this book.


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