On Instagram, I mainly follow two types of accounts: authors and foodies. I love devouring both well crafted words and well presented plates and—luckily for me—sometimes these two passions combine. Next month, Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo and With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo will join the bookshelves. While I cannot wait for other readers to meet Lucky, Jack, and Emoni, I’m also impatient for my taste buds to meet all the outrageously delicious dishes.
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
As all good stories do, Somewhere Only We Know begins with food: Lucky, an exhausted K-pop star, sneaks out of her hotel room and is on the hunt for a hamburger. She meets Jack, a tabloid photographer who doesn’t immediately recognize her. They embark on a spontaneous twenty-four hour tour of Hong Kong. The two find themselves sharing spicy food and sweet moments as they question what they owe to themselves and to the world.
Between ice cream sundaes, steaming bowls of congee, and crisp shawarma, it becomes apparent Jack is kind, sensitive, and very, very conflicted (as he should be). Lucky is bold, confident, and hilarious. She’s unabashedly herself, especially while eating all things every chance she gets.
Goo writes about food with such color and vibrance I was ready to start eating the pages. In Somewhere Only We Know, she does not simply focus on the aesthetics of the dish; instead, she focuses on each complicated layer. (And I think she owes us all some bao after putting us through such emotional turmoil, gasping laughter, and irrepressible food cravings.)
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Have you ever entered someone’s house while they’re cooking and suddenly wanted to bottle the scent? I guarantee that’s what I’d do if I ever visited Emoni from With the Fire on High. Emoni has been a single mom since early on in high school. She loves nothing more than her daughter, but she has always been drawn towards cooking. When Emoni has the opportunity to travel to Spain as part of the cooking course at her high school, she has to figure out how to balance being a mother and a chef.
Every time Emoni makes a dish, the food is infused with both flavor and emotion. From sweet potato with red pepper aioli, to pork shoulder in a sour orange marinade, she crafts delectable dishes throughout the book. At the end of each section, recipes are included with notes to warm hearts. Acevedo starts off the book with a recipe for Lemon Verbena Tembleque, writing, “Serves: Your heart when you are missing someone you love.”
With the Fire on High is deliciously crafted not only because of the food content, but also because of Emoni’s relationship with her daughter Emma. Even in moments of tension or stress, Emoni puts Emma first. Acevedo leaves the reader with not only inspiration to get cooking, but also the hope that there is always a path to pursue our passions.
Maurene Goo and Elizabeth Acevedo’s upcoming releases are everything hungry readers are looking to taste and I don’t think the release dates can come fast enough. Too impatient to wait for these foodie reads to come out? Check out these five YA books to devour with your favorite snack. Interested in reading more about Lucky and Jack? Read an excerpt from Somewhere Only We Know here.