*Before I jump in, I want say thank you to CW and Vicky for organizing this AMAZING food crawl and to the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinions. This blog tour is a way to celebrate the different Own Voices stories from a different authors with different backgrounds and how their cultures connect to food. Each reviewer is posting about their cultural connection to the story they are reviewing. Also, these photos are not mine. I found them on weheartit.*
The story I had the chance of discussing today is Bloom by Phoebe North. In Phoebe’s story, we meet Naomi and her grandfather, Pop who run a deli together. Naomi is a high school senior who doesn’t enjoy school and is still grieving the loss of her parents when she meets Simon who takes her to different restaurants on Hungry Heart Row. She learns about love, education, food, her religion and herself. In my aesthetic above, it’s what popped into my mind when reading the story. I picture the city to be something similar to Manhattan and the deli too similar to the Jewish delis you see on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that my grandparents used to take me too. Naomi and Simon are both intellectuals and both want to be able to find their purpose in this world. We see Naomi grow into her own person and really think about herself. I love Pop so much, he reminds me of my grandmother (may she rest in peace), the same wit and toughness. I really loved this story and I hope you will too.
This story made me think of the relationship that us Jews have with food. It’s become a running joke that all of our holidays go “they tried to kill us, they didn’t kill us, let’s eat.” But this is very true, food holds a special place in our religion which has a huge cultural impact. Naomi and her grandfather bond while working at the Deli, Naomi and Simon share many moments over food, it’s how relationships are made in the Jewish culture. When new people move into the neighborhood of my community, my mother will say “Oh! Let’s have them over for a shabbat meal.” And some of the places I have met some of the most interesting people in my life have been at holiday meals at other people’s homes. There is a part where Naomi talks about what her family had to run away from in Europe, not very different from that of what my family had to flee, and then mentions that food is for survival. The Jewish people are not strangers to having to flee and make sure they have what to eat, if you keep Kosher (like myself and my family) its very hard to find food in certain places. Food is something that brings us together but can separate us in a minute, its amazing how much of our lives revolve around food.
From some of your favorite bestselling and critically acclaimed authors—including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco—comes a collection of interconnected short stories that explore the intersection of family, culture, and food in the lives of thirteen teens.
A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.
Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.
Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.
Phoebe North, a graduate of the University of Florida’s MFA program in poetry, is the critically acclaimed author of Starglass and Starbreak. A new novel will be forthcoming from HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray in 2020.
North was a finalist in 2018 with the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Other short fiction, critical work, and poetry has appeared or is forthcoming with Analog, Daily Science Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, the YA Review Network, Umbrella Journal, District Lit, 2river View and Strange Horizons (among others), and in anthologies such as the 2015 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, Among the Shadows and Speculative Fiction 2015. North was named a 2013 Flying Start from Publisher’s Weekly.
Writing from a home in the Hudson Valley, they also enjoy gardening, spending time with family, listening to obscure music on outdated formats, and fighting off the fear of death by curating an astonishingly comprehensive social media presence.
Elsie Chapman grew up in Prince George, Canada, and has a degree in English literature from the University of British Columbia. She is the author of the YA novels Dualed, Divided, Along the Indigo, and Caster as well as the MG novel All the Ways Home, and co-editor of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and Hungry Hearts. She currently lives in Tokyo, Japan, with her family.
Photo Credit: Michael Meskin
Caroline Tung Richmond is an award-winning young adult author, whose historical novels include The Only Thing to Fear, The Darkest Hour, and Live In Infamy. She’s also the co-editor of the anthology Hungry Hearts, which features stories about food and will come out in June 2019 from Simon Pulse. Her work is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich.
Caroline is also the Program Director of We Need Diverse Books, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that advocates for diversity in children’s publishing.
After growing up in the Washington, D.C. area Caroline now lives in Virginia with her family.
The prize: 2 Finished Copies of Hungry Hearts (one INTL, one US)
June 10th – Introduction
Vicky (Welcome + Interview)
June 11th – Karuna Riazi
June 12th – Rin Chupeco
June 13th – Jay Coles
Nikki (Review + Creative Post)
June 14th – Elsie Chapman
June 15th – Sara Farizan
June 16th – Caroline T. Richmond
June 17th – Adi Alsaid
Moon (Review + Creative Post)
June 18th – Sandhya Menon
June 19th – S. K. Ali
Mish (Review + Creative Post)
June 20th – Phoebe North
Kayla (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board)
June 21st – Rebecca Roanhorse
June 22nd – Sangu Mandanna
June 23rd – Anna-Marie McLemore
Nox (Review + Creative Post)
June 24th – Closing
CW (Review + Food Crawl)