With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
YA, Contemporary, Fiction
Harper Teen | May 7, 2019
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.
Emoni has a different life than most: she was raised by her grandmother while her father lives in Puerto Rico and she’s a single teen mom. She also loves to cook and when she finally gets the chance to take a culinary arts class at school she has to consider more than just what she wants. Adding on to all of that, there’s a new kid at school who likes Emoni and he’s in her advisory class and her culinary class. After a few weeks of Malachi trying to get Emoni’s attention, she starts to let up and lets him in a little. Don’t get confused though, this book is about becoming who you’re meant to be, recognizing your talents are more than just a hobby, and pursuing your dreams while facing obstacles, not just the romance.
First, let’s talk about this beautiful cover, all the colors go well together and the girl on the front is beautiful. It’s so captivating it kind of draws you in. It also helps you picture exactly what Emoni would look like, not that you need it because the author does a great job in describing her. During one part of the book, Emoni says that she puts on her bandana on her head instead of a chef’s hat and that’s exactly what I pictured in my head.
This story was so great and empowering for not only women but for anyone facing obstacles that are placed in front of their dreams.
Emoni’s love for cooking is no match for her love for Babygirl. Babygirl is two, loves Moana, and her momma wholeheartedly. The book opens with Emoni trying to do Babygirl’s hair while she’s watching and singing to Moana and guys, I could feel the love right then and there.
Angelica, Gelly, is Emoni’s best friend. They’ve been friends for as long as Emoni can remember. She’s always encouraging Emoni to pursue her dreams and to open up her heart again (in her own way). She also loves Babygirl almost as much as Emoni.
“Buela is one of my favorite characters. She’s one of my favorite’s because while she’s helping Emoni take care of Babygirl, she’s also helping Emoni to grow and learn to be independent.
I really liked Malachi and Emoni’s relationship because while Emoni kept telling him that they weren’t friends, he kept pursuing her without being direct about it. He’s been through some of his own stuff so he didn’t push Emoni for anything. He knew her situation and didn’t hold that against her which I think all of that makes him a great guy.
I wasn’t very fond of Emoni’s ex. He was a good dad to Babygirl but when it came to Emoni he had a ton of double standards and he never stood up for her with his parents. He had people spying on her when he was doing worse things than she was which just made him seem like a jerk to me.
This story is written in such a simple, yet wonderful way. Everything was explained perfectly. I honestly felt like Emoni was sitting across from me and just telling me her story. I absolutely loved everything about this story and it’s definitely a reread down the road. If you ever get the chance to read this book I highly recommend it.
Thank you, Edelweiss and HarperTeen for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.