With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough...

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Title:With the Fire on High
Author:Elizabeth Acevedo
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With the Fire on High Reviews

  • Lala BooksandLala

    Flawless

  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    My favorite book of the month so far. This was SO GOOD and Elizabeth Acevedo has definitely become an auto-buy author for me. Also side-note: I feel SO ATTACKED that all the food mentioned in this book is not currently in my mouth???????????? It all sounds so damn good I just 🤤

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    I don’t know if I can even review this properly. This book has so much

    to it that I barely know where to begin.

    💜I always love stories about young women growing their ambition, but also, the cover of this is

    i'm not fucking able to process it

    all of Chaima’s opinions are correct

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء

    was soft, enfolding, light as a dusting of snow upon my forehead, the kind of novel that deadens the harshness of the world and takes the sting from any barb. I floated through the story as if set adrift in a lifeboat on a gently rocking sea. Delight sluiced through me, and I tingled with the giddy buoyancy of reading a book that made my heart feel like it had grown too large for the confines of my ribs. No wonder, then, that when I turned the last page, the entire world se

    was soft, enfolding, light as a dusting of snow upon my forehead, the kind of novel that deadens the harshness of the world and takes the sting from any barb. I floated through the story as if set adrift in a lifeboat on a gently rocking sea. Delight sluiced through me, and I tingled with the giddy buoyancy of reading a book that made my heart feel like it had grown too large for the confines of my ribs. No wonder, then, that when I turned the last page, the entire world seemed to be oversaturated, too bright, too sharp, swallowing the slice of light and returning me abruptly to darkness.

    Acevedo’s second novel centers around 17-year-old Afro-latina Emoni Santiago whose cooking is an instrument of wonder. When people taste Emoni’s food, something deep inside them, once misaligned, shifts back into its proper place. An aspiring chef, she dreams of attending culinary school where she can tend her skills, through practice and diligence, like gardens until they gleamed beneath the sun. But now whenever she sought those fantasies, her 3-year-old daughter’s face would not let them take root. Raised by her grandmother Gloria (whom she calls ‘Buela) after her mother died and her father became a figurehead moving in and out of her life with little permanence, Emoni is determined to be the best mother she could be.

    When Emoni’s school announces a new culinary arts class that will culminate in a weeklong apprenticeship in Spain, there was a ricochet of feeling in her, a tentative swell of hope flinching back toward the firmer ground of hopelessness. Emoni is not sure how long she can grasp after the tail end of her dream when so many responsibilities echoed through her mind like the tolling of a bell. But Emoni’s will has always been unwaveringly strong. When she got pregnant and the rumors and the snide remarks came thick as biting flies, Emoni pulled her fearlessness forth, mantling it like cream on every inch of her skin. And she will be just as undaunted in the pursuit of her dreams.

    Acevedo’s voice is resonant, warm, with a pull to it that reminds me of ocean tides. You can tell the author has a strong background in poetry, because the way she utilizes language throughout the novel is masterful. Her prose, so full of lyrical subtlety, searing clarity and an understated assuredness, scintillates. It buoys and soothes at once. The novel is also separated into sections, each of which is introduced with recipes so rich they linger on the tongue; it was such a lovely addition.

    is simultaneously ardent and deferent. The graceful sense of sympathy and wonder—and along with it a guarded, hard-won hope—are what make this novel dazzle, even as a haze of helpless despair begins to creep through the pages. More intimate than a diary, Emoni’s narration wavers between funny and devastating. She is one of the most charismatic fictional creations in recent memory. Emoni is strong, unyielding, and there is a stunning vitality to her—her character gleams pearlescent, lit up from within, and it’s a delight to spend time with her.

    There is tenderness wounded into this book, ineffable and aching. And there’s despair, thick in the air as winter mists. But through it all, threading them together like jewels on a golden string is a torrent of love. The bottom falls out of Emoni’s dedication for her daughter, proving it an abyss, its depths unknown. She carries her daughter’s heart in her chest, and even when it seems that she has no hope and no solution, she revels in what she has instead—a caring grandmother and a healthy child—and she fights to protect it from the scolding eyes of everyone else.

    But the novel doesn’t shy away from the hardships studding Emoni’s path: so many wants and hopes lap at Emoni in a ceaseless tide, but difficult things are thrown her way in clumps and batches, unmanageable and messy, and if they would just let her go she would soon lie face down in the softness of the earth and sleep. Acevedo’s touch, however, remains light even when hopelessness encroaches on the story, and she surrounds Emoni with an unbending support system, which includes Angelica, Emoni’s queer best friend, Tyrone, Emma’s dad, who is steadily present in his daughter’s life, and Emoni’s ‘Buela with her quiet, unremittent love. Even Emoni’s father, a genuinely kind and generous person, but who is dogged by the loss of his wife ( “the best of him”, Emoni says, “is reserved for strangers,” but over the course of the novel, he learns to extend that benevolence to his own family). Emoni also meets Malachi, a kind and handsome new student, who indefatigably pursues her affections but never crosses her boundaries, and Emoni’s heart thaws for him regardless of how much she tries to put her veneer of remoteness back firmly in place. The romance that blooms between them is not only heart-warming but also realistic.

    Overall,

    is an immensely warm-hearted treat that boldly gives voice to young women whose stories are often dismissed as cautionary tales. It’s a unique, hearty story that you can easily breeze through over a weekend. Trust me, I binge read most  of this book and it was the best therapy session that I’ve ever had!

  • Nilufer Ozmekik

    Five distinguished, magical, tasty, heartwarming, poignant and definitely exquisite firing stars!

    Since I’ve read Laura Esquivel’s “ Like water for chocolate “, I started to enjoy reading books about talented cooks who pour their souls, their secluded emotions, their hopes and happiness into their food to create an art and serving one of the most pleasuring things of life by sharing their creativity! Just like Emoni Santiago did with her gifted hands, enduring soul.

    Her food is her reflection of

    Five distinguished, magical, tasty, heartwarming, poignant and definitely exquisite firing stars!

    Since I’ve read Laura Esquivel’s “ Like water for chocolate “, I started to enjoy reading books about talented cooks who pour their souls, their secluded emotions, their hopes and happiness into their food to create an art and serving one of the most pleasuring things of life by sharing their creativity! Just like Emoni Santiago did with her gifted hands, enduring soul.

    Her food is her reflection of her love for her baby girl, her Abuela who practically raised her, her heritage, her mom whom she never met, her father even he abandoned her when she was little baby , her pen-friend aunt Sarah who loves sharing recipes and her best friend Angelica!

    This book makes you smile, feeds your soul, touches and warms your heart!

    It was an amazing also emotional journey to read the story of struggling Emoni ! She’s taking responsibility of her baby girl( at some parts she also takes care of her Abuela and they change their roles) to give her best opportunities even if she is still too young, life pushes her growing faster to be a proper adult who also works after school to support her family !

    When she starts taking culinary class, she finally understands her life purpose! She wants to be a chief!!!

    She works hard, does whatever it takes, sweats in pain for fundraising of their trip to Spain to learn more about international kitchens, working as an intern of Spanish chiefs, broadening her horizon and her skills.

    With her trip to Spain, she learns what a dream means and what she should do to fight against all the obstacles to make her dream come true! Finally she understands she is not only a baby mama who accepts what life gives her, if she wants something from deep in her heart, she needs to work hard and learn to get what she wants!!!

    The author achieves a perfect balance between realistic and poetic, lyrical fiction that makes you love all the characters and accept them with their all flaws, faults!

    You feel like they’re your real family members, lifetime friends, your school teachers, your boss or your boyfriend!

    This is real genuine, sincere , heart melting, gripping story!

    There is only one side effect of it. You gotta eat something or try the recipes of Emoni as soon as you finish it!

    But it’s worth to taste and definitely worth to read!

  • Melanie

    💛 Please check out

    !

    is an ownvoices story, following an Afro-Latinx main character named Emoni. Emoni is a young mom, who got pregnant her freshman year of high school, but this book takes place during her senior year, and her school just opened up registration for a culinary class. Emoni has loved cooking and crafting recipes her entire life, but she is appre

    💛 Please check out

    !

    is an ownvoices story, following an Afro-Latinx main character named Emoni. Emoni is a young mom, who got pregnant her freshman year of high school, but this book takes place during her senior year, and her school just opened up registration for a culinary class. Emoni has loved cooking and crafting recipes her entire life, but she is apprehensive to sign up for the new class because at the end of the year there is a trip to Spain that she doesn’t think that she can afford.

    Emoni lives with her abuela, and even though her daughter’s father is in her daughter’s life, he does not help out with expenses and money is very tight, along with Emoni’s free time. She is always working part time at a burger joint, and for sure doesn’t have time to even think about dating, until a new boy comes to the school, and joins the brand-new culinary class.

    Elizabeth Acevedo's writing is just on another level. Her passages and one-liners leave me breathless and speechless. You can tell that she puts her entire heart and soul into every line she delivers, and it just makes this entire book shines so very brightly.

    And the themes, from being a young parent and motherhood and what it means to be both of those things when people judge you for them constantly. To how sometimes family aren’t able to be what you wish they were, whether that means closer in distance and/or support. To being mixed race, and how Emoni’s Puerto Rican half will never erase her Black half, regardless of what ignorant people choose to say.

    This is a story about connecting with your culture(s), and loving all of the parts of yourself, through food and through family, and it’s honestly so expertly done and so beautifully executed. Reading this entire story made me crave so many of the recipes that Emoni was making, but it made me crave my family’s food and company so very fiercely. Upon finishing, I actually went to the store, came home, and made

    and felt so very happy and so very whole.

    Overall, this is just such a beautiful book with such a beautiful message. From feeling the closeness to Emoni, both naturally and her trying her hardest, to seeing the closeness of a community come together, it just made for such a powerful read and really left me feeling every emotion. Elizabeth Acevedo is a gift to the world and I can’t wait to read everything she will ever write.

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    Abandonment, loss of a loved one in the past, medical anxiety/scares, talk of abortion, underage drinking, and use of the word g*psy that is 100% completely challenged.

  • BernLuvsBooks (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)

    And that cover - breathtakingly gorgeous!

    Emoni is a (part Puerto Rican, part Black) teenage mom who was raised by her 'Buela (grandmother) after the death

    And that cover - breathtakingly gorgeous!

    Emoni is a (part Puerto Rican, part Black) teenage mom who was raised by her 'Buela (grandmother) after the death of her mother in childbirth. How I adored her abuela and their strong relationship! Emoni's love and devotion for her daughter was everything. She wants so much for Emma and is willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to make something of herself.

    This dash of magical realism woven into the story was perfection. I thoroughly enjoyed the recipes and the emails to her aunt about food sprinkled throughout. Food plays as important a role in the story as poetry did in Poet X.

    Emoni struggling to find her way and working towards realizing her dreams was front and center here. It never took a back seat to the love story woven in which I absolutely appreciated. There were many strong secondary characters that impacted Emoni's life and added richness to the story. Her relationship with her best friend reminded me so much of my own that I couldn't help but smile each time they were together.

    A lot happens in this book and I happily followed along with Emoni's life with every turn of the page. The short chapters made it feel hard to put the book aside - I kept thinking "just one more chapter" and found myself done before I was ready to let go.

  • Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

    *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review by Harper Collins Frenzy. Thank you!*

    This was such a great read. So rich and vibrant, I felt like I could smell and taste each dish that Emoni made. She was an easy to character to love and root for and I enjoyed watching her journey throughout her senior year as a teen mom struggling to put herself first for once. Overall, I think this book was just as beautiful as the cover is (and that's pretty damn beautiful.)

  • Lola

    Given that I recently read a book about abortion, I was particularly interested in this tale featuring a teenage girl who decides to keep her baby and struggles juggling school, work and Babygirl. The contrast between these two situations (terminate a pregnancy and carrying it out) is astounding but it just shows that we all should have the right to choose and in either situation we deserve respect and the freedom to work toward our dreams, however high they may be. A beautifully poetic story.

  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    This is literally one of the most stunning covers I've ever seen. Wow.

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