Review: Hungry Hearts Anthology

Hey, everyone! Welcome to my stop on the HUNGRY HEARTS Food Crawl! I’ll be reviewing Back Work by Sara Farizan. This blog tour means a lot to me because it’s so precious and perfectly set up. Take a look at the schedule for information on what to expect! I advise you to check out the posts, they’re…delicious.

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love edited by Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond
Hardcover, 352 pages
June 18th 2019 by Simon Pulse

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. Goodreads

I received an eARC of Hungry Hearts through the blog tour in exchange for an honest review of Back Work.

Today, I’m going to talk to you about Sara Farizan’s “Back Work.” I’ve always wanted more Persian representation in books, and it’s to learn more about my father’s culture. Before you read more, I’d like to inform you that I talk about my dad, who passed away in 2006, in case this could be a sensitive topic for anyone.

When I was nine years old, my father was my entire world. I remember he installed my TV so I could watch all the Spy Kids I wanted, and he even let me ride along on what at the time seemed like hours and hours of car rides. My dad was Irani. He told us of the story of him and his siblings and parents moved to Bahrain from Iran and escaped poverty. When he married my mom, my dad was already forty-years-old. Add another fifteen and then they had me. The almost-youngest of nine. I have fifteen siblings in total. My memories of my dad began to fade, as the Persian faded from my mother’s tongue, like the fact we stopped eating his favorite food (fish stew), and his car was sold.

I never consciously learned to speak Persian or ate much Persian food. Except when I slowly grew up and realized not a lot of people liked ghormeh sabzi. I always focused on the fact that I was Persian by associated and did it count if I didn’t speak the language or even know much of the culture? When my dad passed away, I mourned him because I was turning 11 in a month and I really wanted him to see me go to middle school. You see, I still feel the ache of losing my dad. It wasn’t just him I lose, I lost a big part of my identity.

That’s why I read books with Persian representations. They remind me of my dad. Reading Back Work was first about the rep, but slowly, I became enchanted by the dad in the story. Let me tell you about it.

Laleh has made a big mistake that not only cost her time but also her relationship with her dad. She begins working at her uncle Mansour’s restaurant to make up for her mistake. Through the restaurant, she rekindles a friendship with a girl from school and finds a way to assert her purpose.

I liked Back Work because not only did it depict a culture I adore, it also had that big blow up moment between Laleh and her father. Where he got to tell her that it was always her he worried about. He worked all his life so Laleh could have a good life. That moment especially struck such a chord with me because it allowed me to read how you can have a complex relationship with your parents and it doesn’t have to be simply negative. I was nervous about reading this because I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the family dynamic.

Except that Back Work impressed me. I got to read Laleh’s relationship with her parents, as strained as it was, as well as see how she and her uncle Mansour communicated. Laleh didn’t expect that working in the restaurant could become a purpose.

Let’s talk about the food: I absolutely want to try everything. My mother doesn’t cook a lot of Persian food but she does make a mean ghormeh sabzi. I liked how the food was the way Laleh managed to reconnect with the girl she liked (Listen, lesbian representation is life!)

Back Work is a delight wrapped in good feels and delivered such a poignant heartfelt story.

Thank you for showing up to my stop and hope you have a delicious time through the tour! Have an excellent one. You can pick up a copy below.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound



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

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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.

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Sara Farizan

Sara Farizan was born on August 2, 1984 in Massachusetts. Her parents immigrated from Iran in the seventies, her father a surgeon and her mother a homemaker. Sara grew up feeling different in her private high school not only because of her ethnicity but also because of her liking girls romantically, her lack of excitement in science and math, and her love of writing plays and short stories. So she came out of the closet in college, realized math and science weren’t so bad (but not for her), and decided she wanted to be a writer. She is an MFA graduate of Lesley University and holds a BA in film and media studies from American University. Sara has been a Hollywood intern, a waitress, a comic book/record store employee, an art magazine blogger, a marketing temp, and an after-school teacher, but above all else she has always been a writer. Sara lives near Boston, has a cool sister, loves Kurosawa films, eighties R&B, and graphic novels, and thinks all kids are awesome.

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3 Replies to “Review: Hungry Hearts Anthology”

  1. This is such an amazing post, I loved reading it. I’m so sorry you lost your dad at such a young age. 🙁 I’m so glad, however, that you found a piece of your culture in this story – Hungry Hearts, as a whole, sounds so great, and warm (?) if that makes sense haha. I can’t wait to read it! I’m just now catching up on the tour, and all the posts, including yours, have been so lovely to read, so thank you for putting this post together. 💜

  2. I am feeling the love of this post and appreciate your honest words and memories of your Dad. I am blessed that my dad is still alive and I will be celebrating him tomorrow (via phone call as he lives many hours away). Thank you for this post that warmed my heart and soul on this gray, soggy, and cool day in June.

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