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With the Fire on High

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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 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 time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.


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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 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 time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

30 review for With the Fire on High

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chaima ✨ شيماء

    With the Fire on High 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 With the Fire on High 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. With the Fire on High gripped me from the first couple chapters, and I promptly slipped into the sheathing warmth within it. 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. The heart of the book, though, is motherhood. At that, it triumphs magnificently. With the Fire on High 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, With the Fire on High 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! ✨ wishlist ✨ blog ✨ twitter ✨ tumblr ✨

  2. 5 out of 5

    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.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    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 🤤

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lala BooksandLala

    Flawless

  5. 5 out of 5

    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!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    💛 Please check out Johely's amazing, ownvoices review! “And so at the age of four, I learned someone could cry from a happy memory.” With the Fire on High 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 💛 Please check out Johely's amazing, ownvoices review! “And so at the age of four, I learned someone could cry from a happy memory.” With the Fire on High 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. “The whole of me is whole.” 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 Pancit 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. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch Content and Trigger Warnings: 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    I loved this so much! And I highly recommend the audiobook (it's narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo herself) <3

  8. 4 out of 5

    BernLuvsBooks (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)

    "The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance." Elizabeth Acevedo has done it again! This sophomore novel is vastly different from Poet X, yet it is equally filled with boriqua pride, strong familial love and characters that ooze diversity. 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 "The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance." Elizabeth Acevedo has done it again! This sophomore novel is vastly different from Poet X, yet it is equally filled with boriqua pride, strong familial love and characters that ooze diversity. 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. Emoni has magic hands when it comes to cooking. Her food literally evokes physical emotion in all who eat it as she essentially pours a bit of herself into every dish she makes. 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. Thank you to Elizabeth Acevedo, Harper Teen and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review this emotional and empowering story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    With the Fire on High is all over the place on purpose — we get brief chapters that are simply glimpses into Emoni’s character, and then get to continue on with the journey simply knowing more about her. This has the impact, of course, that it’s not a very plot-driven book. But for a story this character-driven, it is a brilliant choice. Sometimes, focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can't. Emoni Santiago is a senior in high sch/> With the Fire on High is all over the place on purpose — we get brief chapters that are simply glimpses into Emoni’s character, and then get to continue on with the journey simply knowing more about her. This has the impact, of course, that it’s not a very plot-driven book. But for a story this character-driven, it is a brilliant choice. Sometimes, focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can't. Emoni Santiago is a senior in high school, considering the rest of her future with limited options: after all, she is the single mother to a child she had three years previous with her ex-boyfriend. But with the help of her grandmother, her best friend, a new boy at school, and a new cooking class, she might have further places to go. Emoni, as a heroine, is instantly compelling: strong, brave, but also at times vulnerable. She is unsure of her readiness to participate in either her dreams or in emotional openness, but also full of ambition. Some of the arc of this book comes in her learning to lean into her vulnerabilities, and risk things for her future happiness. Emoni’s passion for cooking is so incredibly well-written and I genuinely think it should be used as an example of how to write passion. We are so in deep with her love for cooking that we immediately root for her to live her dream; we see her talent and see her potential and see how much she wants it, but we also see the obstacles in her way, and it just makes us want it more for her. I genuinely rooted for Emoni to become a chef on a level I barely feel for like, will-they-won’t-they romantic couples. (Emoni x happiness otp.) I really liked Malachi, Emoni’s endearing bad-boy-exterior-good-boy-interior love interest. I love that Emoni doesn’t take his shit and keeps her role in the narrative; this romance is not her character arc, but one part of her development into someone more willing to participate in emotional vulnerability. It is so about her. That is rare for female characters. Emoni’s grandmother, father, and best friend each felt like very fully-realized characters as well, and I loved seeing their interactions. What I loved most about this book is the deep and enduring respect it gives Emoni’s dreams. It’s a book that explores cultural identity, and Afro-Latina identity, responsibility, and motherhood, and the social alienation that comes with teen parenthood. The thing is, I wrote this whole review and I don't think I'm saying this right. I don't think I can properly articulate what makes this book so good. Except for this: It is a book that is endearingly real but still hopeful, and for that, it will stay with me for a long, long time. Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | Youtube | About |

  11. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    Oh wow is this a love letter to food and culture.😍ngl, I am here living for foodie fiction and this has so so many tasty recipes (sending slight sad face to how it was 90% savoury dishes though...like c'mon!!! life exists for dessert). But it was so so good and honestly I was so invested in the characters, the romance, in Emoni raising her little girl...I just!! It's a beautiful story. I loved The Poet X, but I think I loved this a bit more because, well, food, but also just Emoni's utter love and devotion to her baby 😭. An Oh wow is this a love letter to food and culture.😍ngl, I am here living for foodie fiction and this has so so many tasty recipes (sending slight sad face to how it was 90% savoury dishes though...like c'mon!!! life exists for dessert). But it was so so good and honestly I was so invested in the characters, the romance, in Emoni raising her little girl...I just!! It's a beautiful story. I loved The Poet X, but I think I loved this a bit more because, well, food, but also just Emoni's utter love and devotion to her baby 😭. And also her and Malachi were the softest, sweetest slowburn romance. And it was filled with such important themes and discussions on race and expectations and assumptions. Emoni is black/Puerto Rican and she unpacks feelings about her culture and people's judgements of her that she had a baby at 15. And all the foodie scenes?! She has just this magic of knowing how to infuse and combine flavours and I adored reading how she grew and her cooking developed!!! There is so so much heart is in this book. And my heart feels really full just after finishing it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

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

  13. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    me: writes a blog post complaining about how I’m going through a reading slump me, later that day: binge reads 300 pages of this book

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    LATINX REP!!! YAYYY! I'M 50% LATINX (Maybe more?). But you could never tell. I'm as pale as a naked banana 🍌 Goodreads | Wordpress | Twitch | Pinterest | Reddit

  15. 5 out of 5

    chan ☆

    a fantastic prose novel from a fantastic author I'll start this review off by saying that I haven't had the chance to read Acevedo's debut, but everyone I've talked to raves about it. So requesting and getting approved for this ARC was really special and I'm really grateful I had the opportunity to read this. The book is about Emoni Santiago, a teen mom in her senior year at a charter school in Philly. She's got a passion for cooking and is trying to figure out what her next move is a fantastic prose novel from a fantastic author I'll start this review off by saying that I haven't had the chance to read Acevedo's debut, but everyone I've talked to raves about it. So requesting and getting approved for this ARC was really special and I'm really grateful I had the opportunity to read this. The book is about Emoni Santiago, a teen mom in her senior year at a charter school in Philly. She's got a passion for cooking and is trying to figure out what her next move is. Take a culinary class in high school? Go to college? But more importantly, this book was about culture and family and roots. I loved the way this story was told almost in little vignettes about Emoni's life. All of the chapters drove the story forward but getting little insights into pieces of her life in the past or little insights about being a young mother was incredibly compelling. And reading a book about a latinx character was really cool. I've never read a book with an afro-latinx main character and i really felt for Emoni and where she came from. This book was full of flavor, recipes, and love. I also really appreciated the ending and the overall "quietness" of this book. It felt realistic and complicated and messy. And at this point I'm just throwing out adjectives, but just know that this book was a really fantastic sophomore novel and I implore you all to pick it up.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    "The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance." Elizabeth Acevedo's The Poet X was easily one of the best books I read last year. This novel-in-verse moved and dazzled me, and it is a book I still think about quite often. Her new book, With the Fire on High , is written in traditional prose, and I am equally blown away by what Acevedo created. Ever since she got pregnant her "The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance." Elizabeth Acevedo's The Poet X was easily one of the best books I read last year. This novel-in-verse moved and dazzled me, and it is a book I still think about quite often. Her new book, With the Fire on High , is written in traditional prose, and I am equally blown away by what Acevedo created. Ever since she got pregnant her freshman year of high school, Emoni Santiago has always put the needs of others before her—her daughter, her abuela, her best friends. She has always worked harder than anyone else, to prove to everyone that she can make her own way and take care of her daughter, and that one wrong choice shouldn't doom your life forever. The one place where Emoni feels most alive is the kitchen. When she cooks, she is a dynamo, taking recipes and twisting them in her own novel ways, inspiring those who eat her food with inexplicable emotions and memories. If she has any dreams of her own, one is to someday become a chef, although she knows the amount of work may be too much for a young woman raising a child. "'Buela is convinced I have magical hands when it comes to cooking. And I don't know if I really have something special, or if her telling me I got something special has brainwashed me into believing it, but I do know I'm happier in the kitchen than anywhere else in the world. It's the one place I let go and only need to focus on the basics: taste, smell, texture, fusion, beauty. And something special does happen when I'm cooking." When Emoni gets the chance to take a culinary arts elective during her senior year, she is more excited than she's really ever been where school is concerned. The chef-instructor is impressed by her creativity and her innate sense when cooking, but he wants her to learn how to follow instructions, to understand the fundamentals of cooking, and she isn't sure that learning is better than actually having the chance to just do. But she can't imagine not having the opportunity to cook every day. In addition to struggling to care for her daughter, make enough money to help her abuela, and study so she might get into a good college, Emoni also must decide how to handle the attentions of Malachi, a handsome, intelligent transfer student. She also has to deal with the challenges of family, particularly the demands of her baby's father and her own father's tendencies to stay away. But through all of that, Emoni focuses on the magic she can create while cooking, magic which links her own heritage and her connection to her mother, who died when she was born. With the Fire on High is utterly exceptional, moving, compelling, and so entertaining. This is a book about proving yourself, about the obligations of family, the weight a young woman has to carry, and the things which often go unsaid. It's also a book about courage, support, loss, and staying true to your beliefs, even when everyone around you is trying to convince you to do something different. Acevedo's prose is truly lyrical and she conveys so much emotion and humor and love in this story. Here's a sentence or two which sums up so much: "Can you miss someone you never met? Of course, the answer is yes." I really love books about food and cooking, and once again, this one made me hungry. There so many things Emoni and her classmates made that I wanted to taste! But still, I consoled myself with the beauty and heart of this amazing book. Acevedo has a talent that needs to be read, and I can't wait to see what comes next for her! See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    With the Fire on High reminded me of Robin Benway's Far from the Tree in a way that it takes a similarly super positive, almost syrupy sweet tone. Both stories are inspirational and lean on the fantasy of the tribes of supportive people that will lift you up and help you out of the direst circumstances. Fell-good? Yes. Realistic? Eh. Emoni is a high-school senior, a teen mom of a 2-year old daughter, and an aspiring chef. She works hard, she is nice and calm, she is also kind of bland. With the Fire on High is a st With the Fire on High reminded me of Robin Benway's Far from the Tree in a way that it takes a similarly super positive, almost syrupy sweet tone. Both stories are inspirational and lean on the fantasy of the tribes of supportive people that will lift you up and help you out of the direst circumstances. Fell-good? Yes. Realistic? Eh. Emoni is a high-school senior, a teen mom of a 2-year old daughter, and an aspiring chef. She works hard, she is nice and calm, she is also kind of bland. With the Fire on High is a story of Emoni's last year of high school and of her figuring out what to do with her life after. The problem with this novel is that there isn't really a conflict. Emoni strives for better life and achieves EVERYTHING that she wants through hard work and with the help of her grandma, ex, best friend, teachers, etc. She deserves for things to work out for her, but it also makes for a rather dull story. I also think that Acevedo's transition to prose from the verse of The Poet X was not a fully successful one. For every delightful turn of phrase, there is always a clunker of a "I let go of the breath I didn't know I'd been holding" variety (twice within a couple of pages!). It felt like Acevedo's rather tight poetry was expanded through the use of the lamest YA stock prose. Many good subjects brought up here - poverty, teenage pregnancy, post-pregnancy body, etc., but it all is sugar-coated a lot too, especially where motherhood and juggling child/school/work is concerned (who is paying for the kid's daycare? who watched her before daycare when Emoni went to school and work? does grandma do all the actual child caring? the same grandma who is on disability?), which made it clear Acevedo knows about raising kids mostly second-hand. Emoni’s is a well-meaning story, but the one often divorced from reality. You've seen Teen Mom. You know I'm right.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    ARC provided in exchange for honest review 🍒

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    “The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance.” This story is so beautiful. I read The Poet X earlier this year and I really enjoyed it, but I think I enjoyed this one even more. This book follows a young girl named Emoni who had a baby her freshman year of high school and dreams of becoming a chef, she enjoys cooking more than anything. She enrolls in a cocking class at her high school and gets “The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance.” This story is so beautiful. I read The Poet X earlier this year and I really enjoyed it, but I think I enjoyed this one even more. This book follows a young girl named Emoni who had a baby her freshman year of high school and dreams of becoming a chef, she enjoys cooking more than anything. She enrolls in a cocking class at her high school and gets the opportunity to go to Spain for a week, if she can afford it. I listened to the audiobook, which is freaking great by the way because the author narrates it herself, and I absolutely love her voice, she brings these characters to life. I love how this book shows how people look down on teen mothers and it's so unfair to assume they are irresponsible, and we put so much blame on the mothers and never the fathers, who are equally as responsible. I felt so bad for Emoni every time she had to deal with her baby Daddy's rude as hell mother. I loved so many of the scenes with her in the kitchen butting heads with the teacher of her cooking class, it was highly entertaining. All in all, this was a great book!

  20. 5 out of 5

    may ❀

    book #3 for summerathon, under the challenge of: "a book with food on the cover" ✓ we love beautiful covers and we love food and this book has both. pros - The story is incredibly rich and vibrant with colours and flavours and dishes - The recipes that were featured were so creative and the little doodles at the beginning of each chapter, adorable - I love the positive representation of teenager single mothers, the choices emoni had to make for her daughter and the loving relationshi book #3 for summerathon, under the challenge of: "a book with food on the cover" ✓ we love beautiful covers and we love food and this book has both. pros - The story is incredibly rich and vibrant with colours and flavours and dishes - The recipes that were featured were so creative and the little doodles at the beginning of each chapter, adorable - I love the positive representation of teenager single mothers, the choices emoni had to make for her daughter and the loving relationship between her, emma, and her grandmother was just so sweet - I am a sucker for healthy family relationships and this one for sure delivered - The entire cooking experience was so in depth, I haven’t read a book that focused that much on food and my little chef heart was flying - Emoni’s character is so strong and I loved her confidence cons - The book felt long, idk if it was just me but there were parts that dragged a lot and felt unnecessary to the plot (a plot that already had so many interesting aspects) - like the drama with pretty leslie, I didn’t see that purposeful AT ALL - Emoni already has so much in her life and petty girl drama (tho it was resolved well) felt out of place like okay??? boys aren’t that ineretsting anyways - Wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. It felt cheesy and under developed to me, I preferred them just being friends tbh - not an actual diss to the book but I really dislike tyrone and his mom :)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    "Santi, I want to ask you something." I stop in the middle of the hallway and wait for him to catch up. He takes his sweet time walking over, Pretty Leslie on his heels. "Wassup?" I say. I give Pretty Leslie a head-nod and she looks between Malachi and me, her perfectly penciled-in eyebrows furrowing. "I'm good, Emoni. How are you?" She pops her gum, then lowers her voice in a fake whisper. "How's your daughter?" I force myself to keep smiling. I'm not "Santi, I want to ask you something." I stop in the middle of the hallway and wait for him to catch up. He takes his sweet time walking over, Pretty Leslie on his heels. "Wassup?" I say. I give Pretty Leslie a head-nod and she looks between Malachi and me, her perfectly penciled-in eyebrows furrowing. "I'm good, Emoni. How are you?" She pops her gum, then lowers her voice in a fake whisper. "How's your daughter?" I force myself to keep smiling. I'm not ashamed of my baby. I'm not ashamed I had a baby. I'm not ashamed I'm a mother. I lift my chin higher. "Babygirl's real good. She just started daycare little over a month ago. Thanks for asking." I look Malachi straight in the eyes. His dimples are gone. "That's wonderful!" Leslie says. "I don't know how you do it, girl. I couldn't imagine being a parent in high school. Right, Malachi?" But Malachi isn't listening to Leslie. His eyes are on me. If there was one thing I learned once my belly started showing it's that you can't control how people look at you, but you can control how far back you pull your shoulders and how high you lift your chin. Boys think of only two things when they find out you had a baby: thing (1) that you're too much baby-mama drama, or thing (2) that you're easy. Malachi pushes off the wall, but I keep myself as still as a dancer waiting for her cue before she spins. "You called my name because you wanted to ask me something?" "Santi, do you like ice cream?" I glance at Pretty Leslie. She looks as surprised as I feel. "Uh, ice cream?" "I have a craving for ice cream. If you're not busy after school, you want to get ice cream?" He's the most serious I've ever seen him. I look between him and Pretty Leslie. The fake sweet smile she was wearing has cannonballed clear off her face into a pool of confusion. Is Malachi asking me on a date? In FRONT of Pretty Leslie? "I mean I know we're not friends, or whatever." He smiles. The playful gleam is back in his eyes. "But I was hoping we could talk." I let go of the breath I didn't know I'd been holding. "I'll meet you at the main entrance after the bell." And even though 'Buela raised me right, she didn't raise me to be nobody's punk, so I don't bother saying shi- ISH to Leslie. And damn if I don't have a little swag in my step as I walk to English. pg. 107 I don't know exactly what I was expecting as a follow-up to Acevedo's debut The Poet X. This book isn't written in verse. It's about a 17-year-old girl who got pregnant freshman year and is raising her daughter with the help of her abuela. Her mom is dead and her dad hasn't been in her life since she was born. Far from being a sad book, this is a hopeful, rather light-hearted YA considering the subject material. The roughest part of Emoni's life seems to be behind her. Sure, she is a single unwed teenage mother who is a senior in high school. But her loving grandmother is helping her raise the baby. The baby's father is a piece of shit in a lot of ways, but at least he loves his daughter and takes her every other weekend. Emoni is portrayed as an amazing cook. She decides to take a culinary arts class her senior year. She is raising a child, going to high school, working part-time at a fast-food burger place. Her circumstances may lead you to think this book is depressing or full of 'issues.' It isn't. It's pretty upbeat and positive. Emoni is very confident. She doesn't let people's judgments get her down. She is strong, capable, hard-working, she doesn't take any shit. I don't know how realistic this is - I suppose it is possible someone could build up these skills after three years of being a single parent. I liked her. Strong, confident women who take no shit are my jam. She has a strong female friendship with her lesbian bff Angelica. She butts heads with mean-girl Pretty Leslie. She starts dating for the first time since her child was born, and that comes with its own set of problems, especially involving her piece-of-shit ex. The book isn't really a romance. Nor is it a struggle-book. Nor is it about race and class. Nor is it about being Latina and cultural mazes. Instead, it's kind of a mixture of all of these things. And always with a kind of hopeful, positive seasoning sprinkled over it all. Acevedo never makes us feel hopeless or despairing, even though that's how most people would feel being in Emoni's position. But she's relentlessly optimistic and she doesn't let life or other people get her down. I was a little bit afraid this was going to be a tired rehashing of my-magical-cooking-makes-people-feel-things-when-they-eat-it, especially after this passage on page 45. When he finally shoved into me, it stung. For a second I wasn't sure if I wanted to push him away or pull him closer, and then he was panting and sweating on my chest and apologizing. And I kept telling him it was okay, thinking he was apologizing for hurting me, until I realized he was apologizing because it was over. I never even took off my bra. It didn't even last the entire Weeknd song playing in the background. A bubble of disappointment swelled in my chest and I didn't know if I was holding back laughter, tears, or a feeling that I didn't know then how to name. All I could keep thinking was that he definitely didn't have any sweet words or niceness in the moment that I needed it most. I cleaned my own self up, put on my pants, and left. He didn't even say goodbye. When I got home that afternoon, I peeled a ripe plantain. Its skin, dark as night, letting me know how sweet it would be. I sliced the plantain up into a dozen ovals, tossed them into a pan on the highest heat, and cooked them until they almost burned; the sugar turned bitter. I plated them with no accompaniment and I ate and ate until there was nothing left on my plate but a smear of oil. It made me sick to my stomach. To this day, whenever I've served someone maduros they end up crying, teardrops falling onto their plates for reasons they can't explain; and I can't eat them myself without weeping, without a phantom ghost pain twingeing [sic]between my legs. Ever since Tyrone, I don't really talk to boys like that anymore. Boys at this age will say whatever they need to say to get what they want, and I've learned to trust pretty words even less than a pretty face. Although Acevedo does let us know that Emoni's 'magical cooking' does make people emotional and remember things from their past, luckily this time is the only time she suggests that Emoni's emotions are transmitted to her diners through food. Thank heaven. Sex and romance plays a side role in this book. Needless to say, Emoni doesn't trust boys. Tyrone got her pregnant when she was 14, and he is a piece of shit. Not just because he impregnated a fourteen-year-old girl, but because he was shit in bed, emotionally manipulates her, cheated on her. Now they are broken up, but he fucks whomever he wants to fuck but she's not 'allowed' to date anyone. He's no longer fucking her (not like he was loyal to her when he was) but he still thinks he owns her and he's the only one who has a right to her body. He's shit. Not that Emoni is eager to jump into dating. She hasn't seen anyone romantically in three years because she's learned men are shit and not to be trusted. In walks a near-perfect mensch, a transfer to her school. Acevedo seems fond of presenting her heroines with mensch-boyfriends. It's not like I don't approve, I love mensches. The reason I read romance is to read about mensches. However, some readers may find this unrealistic. After suffering as she has, of course Emoni deserves a good mensch boyfriend. Don't read this book for raw realism. Although Acevedo is tackling tough issues like teen pregnancy, race, class, colonialism, being a single mother, having absent parents, being poor, etc. etc. this isn't a heavy book that treats a reader roughly. Instead it is a happy, positive, everything's-going-to-be-alright book. I think The Poet X was a lot more raw (even though that was also ultimately a positive book). People expecting a second The Poet X might be disappointed. Acevedo's writing isn't poetic or exciting. It's rather run-of-the-mill, although she does get some good one-offs like But then he smiles. Dimples popping out on both cheeks like billboards for joy and I stumble over my own feet. pg. 66 But overall it is not as stimulating as reading The Poet X. EMONI I liked Emoni. She doesn't allow people to shame her for getting pregnant at age 14. She loves her daughter. She doesn't take shit from other people. She doesn't trust males and she isn't afraid to stand up to them and tell them what the rules are when it comes to sex (she's learned this the hard way). She is a hard worker and she is smart. "I just want you to make something of yourself," Ms. Fuentes says. I almost suck my teeth. I love Ms. Fuentes, but sometimes she says real stupid shit. "I think there are lots of ways to 'make something' of yourself and still support your family. College isn't the only way." pg. 123 It's times like these ^^ I was leaping to my feet and pumping my fist. Yes, TELL HER, Emoni! Life is so complicated and unsure, I like how Acevedo doesn't fall into the trap of thinking life has to go a certain way in order to be "good." Usually I have to urge female characters to stand up for themselves. I have to command them to be stronger and start clapping back but I didn't have to do this with Emoni, which was quite refreshing. She already knows how to handle herself. It was beautiful. He pretends to shudder in fear, and the giggle that springs out of my throat isn't something I've heard in a long time. It doesn't sound anything like me at all. I feel those first crush butterflies that I thought I'd never feel again, which I know sounds silly for a seventeen-year-old to say, but some days I don't feel like a seventeen-year-old. pg. 167 The book also does a good job in addressing how Emoni is not a girl, even though a lot of people treat her like one. She's a mother, she works for money. She has bigger concerns in her life than if a boy likes her or what the upcoming project is in English class. It's hard to present as a girl, a high school girl but be shouldered with adult responsibilities. And no one can take away those responsibilities and return her to girlhood. This is her life now. But it's hard because often she has to fight 'adults' who still view her as a child even though she is raising up her own child. I really admired both Emoni's stand-up-for-herselfness and her unflinching shouldering of responsibility and hard work. The only negative thing I will say about her is that she doesn't care about the lives of other people. She does not delve into the life of anybody outside of herself - with the sole exception of her best friend Angelica, but even then it's pretty shallow delving. Her grandmother, her rival, her mentor, her teachers, her mensch boyfriend - she can't even be bothered to ask basic questions about their lives. She knows basically nothing about them because she has zero curiosity about their lives and what drives them as a person. She reminds me of Conway Twitty from Twins Under the Christmas Tree. She has no interest in anyone but herself. She doesn't even bother to learn basic things about other people - including her own boyfriend! - that her friends and family ferret out pretty quickly. It's because she doesn't give a fuck. I couldn't relate to her complete lack of interest in other people. I like to get to know people and what makes them tick. She doesn't give a damn. She could know someone for years before realizing they were Muslim or that their mom died of cancer when they were a kid or that they had parents that were divorced. SMH. She just doesn't care. TL;DR: Pretty good book. Kept my interest. General story - not focused on any one particular topic, just kind of covering what happened to Emoni in her senior year of high school. That was great because you get a little bit of everything: romance, friendship, family, work, passion, race, class, adulthood, and parenting. Emoni was a fierce and smart woman - I liked and admired her. She sure took care of her shit and didn't let other people railroad her. I liked her meeting a mensch who was going to treat her right and perhaps change her mind about men. However, I can understand if people thought the book was too positive. I enjoy positive, uplifting books, but sometimes people read YA for the angst. There's so much angst in YA, and so many books that are just agony-porn in a lot of ways. This isn't, and that might upset some people who want something more raw and angsty. Listened to this interview with Acevedo on 1A only after I had penned my review, she touches on some of the topics I've touched on. https://the1a.org/shows/2019-05-06/el... Link courtesy of Chance. NAMES IN THIS BOOK Babygirl f Emma Angelica f Emoni f Clara f Laura f Julio m Sarah f Amir m Pretty Leslie f Malachi m Cynthia f Nya f Steve m Sharif m Elena f Amanda f Talib m Gloria f Brenda f Lisa f Richard m Jordyn f

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jananie (thisstoryaintover)

    LOVED THIS SO MUCH. Was not disappointed. Cared for every character in this book and the journey Emoni goes through ❤ LOVED THIS SO MUCH. Was not disappointed. Cared for every character in this book and the journey Emoni goes through ❤️

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    bruh this cover fire

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Reads Ravenously

    4.5 stars! What a beautiful story! “I feel like I'm being pulled in a hundred different directions and my feet are stuck in cement.” The Poet X is one of the best new YA books I had read this year, and With the Fire on High does not disappoint. This book is about Emoni, a teenage mom in her senior year of high school trying to balance schoolwork, work and being a mom. Emoni loves to cook and when a culinary elective becomes available her senior year she joins the class. But class makes Emoni rethink he 4.5 stars! What a beautiful story! “I feel like I'm being pulled in a hundred different directions and my feet are stuck in cement.” The Poet X is one of the best new YA books I had read this year, and With the Fire on High does not disappoint. This book is about Emoni, a teenage mom in her senior year of high school trying to balance schoolwork, work and being a mom. Emoni loves to cook and when a culinary elective becomes available her senior year she joins the class. But class makes Emoni rethink her life, and pretty soon she's not sure what to do when high school comes to an end. “And sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can't.” I love Acevedo, I feel she's a voice that the young adult genre has needed for a long time. Her characters are so real and speak to many kids who haven't seen themselves in books before. I think this was a wonderful story about resilience, hard work and love. I hope many readers love it as much as I did, even more than I did. And also, I am super hungry after reading this book and need to chow down ASAP! “Whatever we are to become, I'm glad that we can laugh through the uncomfortable moments.” Follow me on ♥ Facebook ♥ Blog ♥ Instagram ♥ Twitter ♥

  25. 5 out of 5

    ✩ Ashley ✩

    ✩ 3.5 Stars ✩ Audiobook Performance: ★★★★ ——————————————— Okay I’m calling it: ♡ BEST DAMN COVER OF 2019! ♡ *Loving it!!*

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    I knew I was going to love this, and I did. Acevedo's first book was told in verse, and this her second keeps the same sort of punchy style. It isn't quite lyrical, but it is told thoughtfully and with economy. Her chapters are short and it felt like we were flipping through scenes and watching how it all painted this larger pictures of a complicated life and the complications of dreams vs reality. The way Acevedo navigated the space between Emoni's specific story and making larger observation I knew I was going to love this, and I did. Acevedo's first book was told in verse, and this her second keeps the same sort of punchy style. It isn't quite lyrical, but it is told thoughtfully and with economy. Her chapters are short and it felt like we were flipping through scenes and watching how it all painted this larger pictures of a complicated life and the complications of dreams vs reality. The way Acevedo navigated the space between Emoni's specific story and making larger observations about ethnicity and race, culture, class, opportunities, and family was lovely. I kept going from invested in Emoni's story to think of all the ways the larger observations and analogies hit home. This pulls straight from predecessors like Like Water for Chocolates, and if anything, I could've used a little more of pulling in the cooking and the recipes into the larger story. Food is universal, in a lot of ways, and I loved that as a background to tell a very specific story about this young, afro-Latina mom chef. Best of all, we got to watch Emoni have a happy ending. We got to watch her navigate situations that too often tear young teens of color down and best them. We get to see her work hard and have it pay off, instead of fail because of the systems that oppress. I did have a few quibbles (I'm one of those people who does feel like "let out a breath I didn't know I was holding" is overused. It's not that it doesn't happen-- it does! It's just a over saturation thing now, and Acevedo uses it at least 3 times in close proximity), but overall, I have nothing but love and high praise for this book. I finished with warmth in my heart and tears in my eyes. Elizabeth Acevedo delivered again, and I will buy any book she publishes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Britt / Basically Britt

    Such a wonderful audiobook!! I literally listened to it in half a day and really enjoyed it! <3

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    At this point I’m starting to wonder if Elizabeth Acevedo is capable of writing anything but a 5 star masterpiece that’s relevant and rich with culture and spark. I call witchcraft.

  29. 4 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    "The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance." trigger warnings: underage sex between an 18yo and a 14yo (yikes), death of a parent from childbirth (in the past), absent parents, death of a loved one from a shooting (in the past), slurs - challenged (g*psy). representation: teen mum, f/f side relationship (bestie is a lesbian), MC is half Puerto Rican & African American, disability from a hand injury (in the past). I real/> "The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance." trigger warnings: underage sex between an 18yo and a 14yo (yikes), death of a parent from childbirth (in the past), absent parents, death of a loved one from a shooting (in the past), slurs - challenged (g*psy). representation: teen mum, f/f side relationship (bestie is a lesbian), MC is half Puerto Rican & African American, disability from a hand injury (in the past). I really enjoyed this, but honestly I didn't love it :( It was really good, but I didn't really connect with it in any way even though I appreciated the story!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Acqua

    With the Fire on High follows Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Puerto Rican teen mother, during her senior year of high school. She has always dreamed of being a chef, and this is the story of her finding out what she wants from her life through her Culinary Arts class. It's a story about learning to believe in yourself and taking the steps to pursue your dreams even though they feel impossible; about finding a balance between your interests and needs and those of the people around you. I loved every moment of it.

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