In Texas, we love our air conditioning. We are a little spoiled with it and have been known to crank it up starting in early March.


But for most of this summer, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT—you may have heard of them as the power grid company that couldn’t keep the heat on during the deep freeze all of Texas experienced back in February—has been, to avoid summer power grid failure, encouraging us to conserve electricity and set our thermostats at levels bordering on torture for Texas.


And what I started noticing on social media from fellow Texas readers dealing with the heat and ERCOT restrictions were allusions to Holes by Louis Sachar saying this is the kind of heat Stanley Yelnats and his friends were digging those holes in.


My thought: update your literary heat references.


I thought of Max and Jordan in The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg running a food truck and cooking in the Arizona heat, of them scavenging in the desert for prickly pear to make Max’s World-Famous Organic Homemade Prickly Pear Frozen Lemonade and how Jordan nearly suffers from heat exhaustion.


Which is a lot to ask of someone who just saved your life.

Seriously. I’m pretty sure he did, because there’s a reason the population was much smaller here before air conditioning, as he explained. The land is uninhabitable, and today is particularly awful—124, Max’s dashboard temperature reads now—and there’s simply no shade in the desert. Also it’s still just about the hottest time of day. No wonder we were all alone out there. Terrible, terrible idea, Max had. I’m a little pissed at him for bringing me out there. Next time he asks if I want to hang out, I’m going to insist on an indoor, chilled, and well-ventilated activity for sure (143).


So, next time you need a “it-sure-is-hot” literary reference, you can say, “Now I know what it felt like for Max and Jordan cooking in that food truck,” or “Now I know what Max and Jordan felt like hunting prickly pear in the desert.”


And if summer is a time for heat, it’s also a time for summer eats, a time to expand our personal menus.


North of Happy by Adi Alsaid begins with brothers Carlos and Felix searching for the perfect tacos al pastor in Mexico and finds Carlos traveling to the United States over the summer and landing a job with his favorite celebrity chef as he copes with the tragic death of Felix.


Each chapter of the book begins the way each day of summer should—with a new recipe. Chapter 12 is one recipe in particular I’m wanting to try.



2 cloves garlic

1 white onion

1 habanero pepper

200 grams bacon

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup grated Manchego cheese

1 cup grated Chihuahua cheese

½ cup dark beer

¼ cup buttermilk

500 grams macaroni noodles


I am also pretty interested in the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches with the homemade mayo described in Chapter 32, which is just another reminder of the best things of summer—books and food. Make sure to enjoy plenty of both.


Download the lesson below to take your students through a delicious exercise on descriptive writing!



Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, high school, has worked as a district level leader, and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel  The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.