I’ve been looking to read this book since it came out but finally found it. It’s another cute book in what I call the “cooking middle grade sub-genre.” Even though it’s cute it also brings up some important issues. So first book of the year!
A Place at the Table
This book explores themes of food, friendship, family, and belonging, featuring sixth graders Sara, and Elizabeth, two sixth graders who couldn’t be more different. Sara is having a hard time fitting in at their new shared school after transferring from her small Islamic school that she used to at attend. Meanwhile Elizabeth has her own problems her British mom has been struggling with depression.
They end up paired up in Sara’s mothers South Asian cooking class which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking and which Sara ends up stuck being there, because because her mom is the teacher. When Elizabeth partner randomly cancels, Sara steps up to be her cooking partner and the two form a shaky alliance.
They slowly become friend as they plan to make the most amazing mouth watering cross cultural dish to win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners but can the two truly trust each other enough to become true friends?
I loved reading about the food in this novel, it made me want to start cooking. There are too many good recipes to name. I’d like to try a partha though I’m assured by the one of the authors that the smores version doesn’t work in real life. Honestly I’ve got a sweet tooth so Halwa Cup of Tea would be great to try.
I also liked how this book has the characters communicate. After one fight, the two girls lay down ground rules for communication that adults could use. I also like that Elizabeth is called out on not supporting her friend when there is racism. I appreciated that microaggressions were addressed as well
I also like that she eventually has that conversation and the internal struggle she has when dealing with it.
Overall I loved Sara and Elizabeth organically evolving friendship, how they dealt with the racism around them, and of course the food.