Notes from a Young Black Chef (Adapted for Young Adults)

Listening Library. Apr. 2021. 629p. $50. ISBN 9780593343364.
Gr 7 Up–Narrator Malik Rashad isn’t quite Onwuachi, who ideally narrated his original 2019 memoir—but here, that’s not necessarily a liability for younger audiences who might need a smidge more animation. Rashad affectingly channels Onwuachi, the self-described “black kid from the Bronx...bold, ambitious, maybe a little arrogant.” Rashad is gentle when recalling Onwuachi’s supportive mother; initially dismissive then actively inquisitive as Onwuachi discovers his ancestral heritage in Nigeria with his paternal grandfather and extended family; aching as he recounts Onwuachi’s repetitive disappointments because of his abusive father; truculent as Onwuachi fights for respect as an accomplished chef. What should have been an auspicious debut for talented Rashad, however, is ruined by lazy production glitches, his hard work especially overshadowed by countless clumsy insertions of phrases and sentences.
VERDICT Alas, for aural purists, the annoyances are likely enough to resort to the page.

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