The B&N YA Podcast: Elizabeth Acevedo Makes Magic

Explore the stories behind the young adult books you love with the B&N YA Podcast. Join host Melissa Albert, editor of the B&N Teen Blog and bestselling author of The Hazel Wood, as she sits down with fellow YA authors to talk about books, life, their teen years, their pop cultural obsessions, and how they came up with the stories that keep us up at night. Subscribe to listen in on fascinating new conversations every other week.

Elizabeth Acevedo’s gorgeous debut novel in verse, The Poet X, was a bestseller that won both the National Book Award and the Printz. She’s following it up this month with her sophomore novel With the Fire on High. It centers on Emoni Santiago, a young mother and passionate chef trying to balance her responsibilities to her daughter and to her dreams. We talked to Acevedo about food magic, YA representation of teen parents, and her own teen self.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

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