Hello, friends! Today I’m super excited to bring you a post as part of the Hungry Hearts #OwnVoices Food Crawl blog tour! This tour was organized by the lovely C.W., of The Quiet Pond, and Vicky, of Vicky Who Reads, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. This blog tour is particularly special as it focused on finding #ownvoices reviewers to read and review the short stories included in the recently released YA anthology, Hungry Hearts. Hungry Hearts centers around stories about food from authors of color. Food is a large part of many cultures of color, including my own, so I was excited to see what stories the book might contain. I was especially excited when I was assigned to read and review author Rebecca Roanhorse’s short story, “The Missing Ingredient.” Like myself, Ms. Roanhorse is of African American and Native American (however, I feel it is important to note that, while Ms. Roanhorse is of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo ancestry, I am of Cherokee ancestry). I was keen to see which parts of either of those cultures Ms. Roanhorse would incorporate into her story. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed.
Title: Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love
Editors: Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond
Release Date: June 18th 2019 by Simon Pulse
Summary: 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.
Focusing on a half Native (I believe Dine’—a.k.a. Navajo) girl and her White mother, “The Missing Ingredient” is a surprisingly heavy read. The story mainly surrounds the theme of appropriation and packs a hard punch that I believe will leave many readers thinking more deeply about the issue by the end of the story.
It is difficult to talk about the story and the theme without giving away too much and I think the surprise of it all is very important. However, I will say that as a Native individual, and a person of color in general, the theme and the horror of it hit me hard. To be Native is to be someone from whom everything is constantly stolen. Our land, our clothing, our cultures, our food—all slowly stripped from us by White individuals, leaving us raw to the bone. Each time you see a kid at Coachella casually wearing a headdress with no regard to its cultural significance, when you buy “authentic Native” jewelry or art or, yes, food, from a White or non-Native creator/vendor, those things hurt Natives in very real ways. First of all, the act of Native appropriation takes money from the Native creators/vendors who truly deserve it. More than that, however, the act of appropriation sacrifices the cultural meaning and significance of an item. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but that act says to Natives (and other PoC) that the things we value, the things we find important, are worthless, and by extension so are we.
In “The Missing Ingredient” Kelsie’s mother wants to be a star chef at a restaurant which cooks Native food and which was started by a Native man (who then died and left the restaurant to her), but she is White. We see that she does not truly care about the type of food she is cooking, the traditions surrounding that food, or its cultural relevance. All Kelsie’s mom cares about is getting a five star review. It is Kelsie, a Native girl who learned cooking from her Native father and thus carries that culture within her heart, who has the missing ingredient that could make her family restaurant’s food taste spectacular. However, in the end, Kelsie’s mother, a White woman, will sacrifice anything to get that good review—including her Native daughter.
The story was a powerful, albeit sad one, and I wish everyone would read it, because it conveys its message in a deep and memorable way. Even as a Native individual myself, I am glad to have read it because it gave me a good visual to help explain to others in future the act of appropriation. I think sometimes, especially in a world as busy as our own, we can forget that our actions always have someone on the other end, even if we don’t know that person. “The Missing Ingredient” reminds people of the dangers of forgetting that.
Thank you to C.W. and Vicky for organizing this amazing blog tour! I am overjoyed to have received the opportunity to be a part of this and it means so much to me that a blog tour like this, focusing on #ownvoices reviewers exists in the first place! Thanks for visiting today, friends, and be sure to check out the other stops on the tour!
Rebecca Roanhorse is a Nebula and Hugo Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her short fiction has also been a finalist for the Sturgeon, Locus and World Fantasy awards. Her novel Trail of Lightning was selected as an Amazon, B&N, Library Journal, and NRP Best Books of 2018, among others, and is a 2019 Nebula Finalist.
Her short fiction can be found in Apex Magazine, New Suns, and various other anthologies. Her non-fiction can be found in Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, and How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation (Macmillan).
She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pug. Find more at https://rebeccaroanhorse.com/ and on Twitter at @RoanhorseBex.
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.
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)