Title: Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food and Love
Editors: Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Short Story Collection
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I’ve had my eye on this anthology since before it came out, and so I ordered it as soon as I could from my local library. It’s been sitting at the top of my library stack for over a month now, and when I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of my library stack, once I realized that I wasn’t feeling The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter. And to be honest, Hungry Hearts might be one of my favorite books of 2019. There wasn’t a selection in this anthology that I didn’t love. With that being said, though, I will choose my favorites out of the collection, because I simply can’t do them all! I also adored every single author that contributed to this collection; this delectable anthology was worth waiting for! I only wish that the diverse, beautiful neighborhood of Hungry Hearts Row was real! Though this collection centered around food, it didn’t shy away from serious topics: gentrification, abuse, family, love in all of its forms, and many others; I loved it! So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Rain by Sangu Mandanna: 5 out of 5 Stars. This story broke my heart and stitched it back together, showcasing grief. Anna is still reeling after the fatal car accident that took her mother’s life, and has moved from her beloved India to rainy, cold England, the bond with her father is broken, until they bond over a dish that her mother made, all with a secret ingredient. I cried, laughed, and rejoiced by the end. One of my favorite stories in the volume.
Moments to Return by Adi Alsaid: 5 out of 5 Stars. This story spoke to me in particular, as one of my biggest fears is of death. A boy heads to Hungry Heart Row after hearing about the (maybe?) magical food, and goes to a dim sum restaurant in order to conquer his fear of dying, at any moment. Along with a delicious meal, he makes an unexpected new friend. Frank, funny, and honest, I loved this story!
The Slender One by Caroline Tung Richmond: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this story! I’m such a sucker for ghost stories, and this was one of the best I’ve ever read! Charlie Ma just wants to be a normal kid; he already feels like his family is weird and doesn’t fit in. Add to that his grandma’s ability to literally talk to spirits, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. When an angry spirit begins wreaking havoc before the yearly food festival, Charlie must decide whether to be normal or to accept his grandmother’s legacy. I loved, loved, loved this story, and I can’t wait to check out Richmond’s other work!
Gimme Some Sugar by Jay Coles: 5 out of 5 Stars. This story made me cry SO MUCH! Leo has a lot to think about: his mother is dying of cancer, and they don’t have the money to pay for her treatment. But when he hears about The Hungry Hearts Row Food Competition, he begins to hope that he has found the solution to his problems. Asking his famed, loving grandmother for help, Leo decides to go for the win, desperate to help his mother. I cried so hard for this story, and I loved it so much! The theme of family was fantastic! One of my favorite pieces of Coles’s work.
The Missing Ingredient by Rebecca Roanhorse: 5 out of 5 Stars. This is the first piece of work I’ve read by Roanhorse, and I can promise that it will not be the last! Kelsie is a normal kid, or at least, she wants to be. Since the passing of her father, she wishes that her mother, a renowned chef, would give up on the family’s Native American restaurant after years of mediocre reviews. She meets a mysterious busboy named Seth, who encourages her to go for what she really wants and repair the fractured relationship with her mother. I loved this story; it had magic, pain, and love of all kinds; it’s one of my favorites of the whole volume! Fantastic!
Hearts a la Carte by Karuna Riazi: 5 out of 5 Stars. Again, this author was brand-new to me. But I loved this story. Telling the story of a young woman in need of direction, she meets a mysterious, always hungry boy, who eventually becomes her friend. But he is hiding a dangerous secret from her, and that decision could cost both of them everything. I loved this story! Food! Family! First love! Superheroes! I can’t wait to find more of Riazi’s work!
And, last but certainly not least,
Side Work by Sara Farizan: 5 out of 5 Stars. Leleh has been spending her time trying to prove to her parents that she can come back from an awful mistake, sure that they hate her. When a restaurant goes out of business in her neighborhood, they’re replaced by a chain, and she finds an unexpected friend (maybe something more?). When she brings the employees over to her uncle’s restaurant, where she works, she receives a blessing she never knew she needed. This story made me cry, both because of sadness and happiness! It was wonderful! The bottom line: A diverse and exciting collection of short stories, I loved Hungry Hearts! One of the best books of the year! Next on deck: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer!