I do have plans for my Cookie posts and I this year, I’m getting things started with a few books by author of color in which food plays a primary role. I remember salivating through Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon and the Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang but,today I’m looking at books in which food is central to the story.
Act of Grace by Karen Simpson Grace reluctantly embarks on the unlikeliest of journeys and into the magical world of the African-American traditions used by her ancestors to fight slavery and oppression, she undergoes a spiritual transformation that leads to the true nature of her calling: to lead Jonathan Gilmore, the town of Vigilant and her own soul on a path toward reconciliation, redemption and true grace. And, she eats to bury her pain. (Amazon)
A la Carte by Tanita Davis Seventeen year old Lainey of becoming a world famous chef one day and maybe even having her own cooking show. (Do you know how many African American female chefs there aren’t? And how many vegetarian chefs have their own shows? The field is wide open for stardom!) But when her best friend—and secret crush—suddenly leaves town, Lainey finds herself alone in the kitchen. With a little help from Saint Julia (Child, of course), Lainey finds solace in her cooking as she comes to terms with the past and begins a new recipe for the future.
Peppered with recipes from Lainey’s notebooks, this delicious debut novel finishes the same way one feels finishing a good meal—satiated, content, and hopeful. (Amazon)
Dumpling Days by Grace Lin Pacy is back! The beloved heroine of The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat has returned in a brand new story. This summer, Pacy’s family is going to Taiwan for an entire month to visit family and prepare for their grandmother’s 60th birthday celebration. Pacy’s parents have signed her up for a Chinese painting class, and at first she’s excited. This is a new way to explore her art talent! But everything about the trip is harder than she thought it would be–she looks like everyone else but can’t speak the language, she has trouble following the art teacher’s instructions, and it’s difficult to make friends in her class. At least the dumplings are delicious… (GoodReads)
Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara When 12-year-old Mariatu set out for a neighboring village, she never arrived. Heavily armed rebel soldiers, many no older than children themselves, attacked and tortured Mariatu. During this brutal act of senseless violence they cut off both her hands. Stumbling through the countryside, Mariatu miraculously survived. The sweet taste of a mango, her first food after the attack, reaffirmed her desire to live, but the challenge of clutching the fruit in her bloodied arms reinforced the grim new reality that stood before her. With no parents or living adult to support her and living in a refugee camp, she turned to begging in the streets of Freetown. In this gripping and heartbreaking true story, Mariatu shares with readers the details of the brutal attack, its aftermath and her eventual arrival in Toronto. There she began to pull together the pieces of her broken life with courage, astonishing resilience and hope. (Amazon)
Bestest.Ramadan.Ever. by Medeia Sharif Okay, so during Ramadan, we’re not allowed to eat from sunrise to sunset. For one whole month. My family does this every year, even though I’ve been to a mosque exactly twice in my life. And it’s true, I could stand to lose a few pounds. (Sadly, my mom’s hotness skipped a generation.) But is starvation really an acceptable method? I think not. (Amazon)
Stir it Up by Ramin Ganeshram Thirteen-year-old Anjali’s life is rich with the smell of curry from her parents’ roti shop and an absolute passion for food. More than anything, Anjali wants to be a chef who competes on a kids’ cooking reality TV show. But Anjali must keep her wish a secret from her family, who thinks Anjali’s passions are beneath her. Thank goodness for Deema, Anjali’s grandmother, whose insight and love can push past even the oldest family beliefs. Woven with recipes that cook up emotions and actual culinary recipes that make food, this novel is as delicious as it is satisfying. (Amazon)
Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith Ana Shen has what her social studies teacher calls a “marvelously biracial, multicultural family” but what Ana simply calls a Chinese American father and an African American mother. And on eighth-grade graduation day, that’s a recipe for disaster. Both sets of grandparents are in town to celebrate, and Ana’s best friend has convinced her to invite Jamie Tabata–the cutest boy in school–for a home-cooked meal. Now Ana and her family have four hours to prepare their favorite dishes for dinner, and Grandma White and Nai Nai can’t agree on anything. Ana is tired of feeling caught between her grandparents and wishes she knew whose side she was supposed to be on. But when they all sit down for their hot, sour, salty, and sweet meal, Ana comes to understand how each of these different flavors, like family, fit perfectly together. (GoodReads summary)
What other titles would you suggest?