Posts Tagged 'Spain'

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.

Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Genre:  Historical Fiction/Multicultural Literature

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  166

RAC Book:  Yes

Estrella is living in Spain in 1500.  During this time in Spain anyone who was Jewish or converted to Christianity has the possibility of being persecuted in court.  As some neighbors of Estrella’s are taken away and she hears the charges against them she comes to the realization that she too is Jewish, but her family pretended to be Christian in order to survive. 

Once Estrella learns she is really Jewish, her entire world comes crashing down as she realizes that nothing in her world is really what she thought it was.  Her best friend betrays her when Estrella falls for the boy she had planned to marry.  She learns many secrets about her family and what they have had to do in order to ensure their secret stay hidden.  Finally, she learns that she has not even known her real name until now.

Incantation shows students that Jewish persecution did not just happen in Nazi Germany.  Jews have been persecuted for years for their beliefs and this story sheds some insight onto what it is like to have everything taken from you because of the faith you believe in.   While this story has many sad moments, it is also comforting that through it all Estrella has hope that somewhere there is a place where she could live as she is free from persecution.

 


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