The Secret to a Perfect Latke by Foxglove Lee
Publisher: Prizm Books
Genre: Young Adult, Holiday, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (19 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
Noah has never been on TV before, but he dreams of having his own cooking show one day. When he’s asked to help a gourmet chef prepare latkes for a Hanukkah segment on the Sunny and The Bear show, his family is proud but suspicious. Sunny and The Bear is a “lifestyle” show that’s popular among straight women, but it’s hosted by gay men. What’s more, the guests on this show have an uncanny tendency to come out of the closet live on national television…
The holidays are an awkward time for anyone whose relatives hold onto rigid ideas about the definition of real adulthood or what constitutes a good life. This is even more true for those of us who are LGBT and have ever worried about what loved ones will say when they discover the truth. Will coming out change how you’re treated? Has anyone figured it out already?
Poor Noah is so deeply connected to his family, girlfriend and Jewish heritage that sometimes he can’t see where they end and he begins. Loyalty is a great character trait but the chasm between the man Noah pretends to be and who he actually is such a source of anxiety that I’d like nothing more than to give him a hug. Of course not everyone will be kind or understanding when they realize the truth about you but more often than not I’ve been pleasantly surprised by whole-hearted acceptance when I come out to new people. This doesn’t make Noah’s concerns any less valid, of course. There are families and communities out there that react quite negatively upon learning that their child, sibling, neighbor or coworker is queer but I still wish I could have stepped into this story and reassured Noah on his journey.
One of the most powerful gifts a young person can be given is the knowledge that they are not alone. One needs not identify as LGBT in order to know what it feels like to be out of step with the rest of humanity for any number of reasons. The strength of this story lies in Noah’s transformation and his realization that the world is a far bigger place than he ever could have imagined.
The Secret to a Perfect Latke is actually quite simple. The answer lies not the quality of the ingredients, the temperature of your oven, the strength of your frying pan or how quickly the results are gobbled up. It is simultaneously the simplest and most complex thing that exists. Are you wondering what the secret is yet? Why not pick up this book and find out!