Monday, August 30, 2021

A PLACE AT THE TABLE by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan – a story about cooking, friendship and family


Why you want to read this book…

This is one of my favorite middle grade reads of this year! I really enjoyed this story about learning to find your place, told from the perspectives of two girls with very different personalities and cultural backgrounds. Both characters really came alive through all the details of their families and their culture, as well as their voices. It was great to learn more learn about different cultural foods and traditions. I also got hooked on whether Elizabeth and Sara would be able to resolve all the problems that came up with their families and friends. 

This book gave me something to think about in reading about all the difficulties and feelings that come into play for kids whose parents are also struggling to deal with issues such as mental health, immigrating to a new country and trying to make a place for themselves.  I’d love to read another book with these two characters, because it was hard to put this one down. 


Here’s the summary from the publisher  


A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.

Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?


A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan was published by Clarion Books in 2020. I read an e-book from my local library.

Additional Resources:

Here's a wonderful interview with the authors about their inspiration and how they worked together to create the book: 

In this interview, the authors mention these useful questions they created for Starting a Conversation with Elders Who Moved Here from a Different Country, posted on the We Need Diverse Books website



  1. This sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing the video: I love the collaborative nature of the book's creation, mirroring the book's themes of coming together. I think food is such a wonderful way to celebrate diversity and create unity.

  2. This sounds like a really sweet book. I hope it comes with some recipes! I will try to check it out. Thaks for the review.


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