RELEASED: June 18, 2019
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
GENRE: YA Contemporary
GOODREADS RATING: 3.73
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.
I’ve had this anthology for a while now, and since one of the O.W.L.’s required a book with “heart” in the title or on the cover, it was an easy pick for me! Now.. What did I think about the stories? Let’s find out! [Note that I helped myself out a bit by checking / using rep mentioned in some reviews I found on Goodreads!]
Rain by Sangu Mandanna
~ Rep: main character is Indian-British
~ I absolutely loved this story about grief and how a certain dish can be an eternal connection to someone you’ve lost. I feel that. I see that. I have the same thing with a specific dish my grandparents used to make. This hit home.
Kings and Queens by Elsie Chapman
~ Rep: main character is Chinese-American
~ I enjoyed this! There was a lot happening for it only being a short story. Not to mention the grand reveal at the end. It was good! Although it definitely wasn’t as gripping as I would’ve liked.
The Grand Ishq Adventure by Sandhya Menon
~ Rep: main character is Indian
~ I actually liked this more than I thought I would, considering my past reading experiences when it comes to Sandhya Menon. The message of this story got to me. The eating in restaurants on your own.. It’s something I’ve been doing more and more since becoming a mom, using it as a way to have some me-time. It does have certain other benefits as well, which are shown through this story. On the other hand, this story might have been too predicable for me.
Sugar and Spite by Rin Chupeco
~ Rep: Filipino
~ I feel like this should’ve been a longer story. There’s more building and telling of history than anything else. It definitely has me curious to find out more about the culture in this one, but I ended up wanting more. This story didn’t give enough.
Moments to Return by Adi Alsaid
~ Rep: anxiety, Montenegrins(?)
~ This mainly feels like a story about overcoming a very present fear and the hope food can bring. I enjoyed it, but it felt too distant, too faraway to really get pulled into this one.
The Slender One by Caroline Tung Richmond
~ Rep: Chinese(?)
~ Ghoooosts! I really liked this story. It wasn’t too special but it was one of the more original stories so far!
Gimme Some Sugar by Jay Coles
~ Rep: anxiety, ?
~ This is the first short story this year that made me tear up. For a short story to do that? Brilliant! It’s emotional, full of hope and.. I don’t know; it’s a special one.
The Missing Ingredient by Rebecca Roanhorse
~ Rep: POC
~ Okay, this one was weird. I didn’t get the actual point of it until I got to the final three to four pages. And then? Then it freaked me out badly enough to want more. It’s a shame it took so long though.
Hearts à la Carte by Karuna Riazi
~ Rep: Muslim, ?
~ I don’t know about this one. I thought it was weird? Like.. It didn’t make sense to me to have a story with a superhero in a book filled with short stories set in the same street.. There wasn’t any mention of superheroes in the other ones!
Bloom by Phoebe North
~ Rep: queer, ?
~ I liked the writing of this one a lot! The story itself was meh until close to the end. I felt like the actual story was about to begin and.. then it ended. I want more now.
A Beautiful Film by S. K. Ali
~ Rep: ?
~ I really, really liked this one. The realizing why a place is special, finding new ways to see things.. The writing had me hooked as well.
Side Work by Sara Farizan
~ Rep: queer, Persian
~ Absolutely loved this story. Queer rep and then some family issues on the way to being resolved thrown in.. It made for a very fun read.
Pandadería ~ Pastelería by Anna-Marie McLemore
~ Rep: trans, ?
~ Loved this story! Finally the story of the character that seemed to pop into each and every other short story in this anthology. Also, I’m definitely still in love with Anna-Marie’s writing.
All in all I more than enjoyed this collection of short stories. The way they were connected, the presence of food, all the different rep.. Although some stories definitely lowered my final rating (thanks, calculator!), I enjoyed a lot of these thoroughly and I’d definitely recommend picking it up should you ever feel like reading a bunch of unique short stories!
Would you read this book where a lot of food is mentioned, so you’re bound to get hungry at some point?
What’s another book you remember having lots of food?