Is it weird that when I was listening to With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, I feel like I was tasting mangoes the whole time? I think it’s because of the author’s voice and how it just has that poetic twang that I can just imagine her gently chastising people for eating mangoes (so I wasn’t sure if it was mangos or mangoes, but google told me mangoes is the more common spelling. It just looks funky) wrong. But also, because the book was about cooking. Or maybe because there are mangoes on the cover…
I’m not sure why I thought this way. I don’t even like mangoes. But it was like I was enjoying the taste of mangoes while listening to this book.
This was one of the books that was a part of my YA binge I was on (this binge was a few books after my post about The Sun is Also a Star. This binge also included On the Come Up by Angie Thomas and Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Saboi). I wrote about earlier that I used to think I was too good for YA books. I still roll my eyes sometimes. But their issues matter to them and they would have mattered to me if I had read these books as a teen.
Maybe YA books seem smarter now because kids, excuse me, young adults, are smarter now (definitely only in some ways). I see a lot more connections to larger societal issues, but still focused on issues centered around identity formation (psych nerd moment: since identity formation is what stage of development they are in).
I also think it’s just a trend nowadays to read YA books. Actually, no it’s not. I remember adultier adults reading books like the Twilight series and arguing about being Team Edward or Team Jacob like these weren’t under-aged teen boys they were fighting about and lusting over (also before hashtags really became a thing. I’m definitely #teamPeterKavinsky even though I’ve only seen the movie and haven’t read the book yet. His actor is technically of age, so it’s ok!).
I’m not sure why I went on this binge (except for this just happened to be the order my holds from the library came in), but I’m glad I did. *YA rant over*
Yeah, I’ll say it again: YA books aren’t as lame as I remembered them to be. Emoni had to grow up and be a mom to her daughter, so that made the book more mature, I guess? If anything, I was reading the book and waiting for her to be a kid.
But back to this sweet book (a cooking pun?). I enjoyed the subtle complexity of race in play throughout this book. But it wasn’t in a way where the main character was exploring or figuring out who she was; when it came to race, she was very sure of who she was. It was the other people who had questions. Having a chance to explore deeper into the complicated historical past didn’t change anything for her. When it came to race, that was one part of her identity in formation.
Sometimes you just need a story that’s about regular people doing life, because life itself can be an antagonist. No dystopian world. No missing women. No grand love story. Just everyday magic that happens despite the tough times.
What’s a story about regular (regular, not boring) life you enjoy?