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WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH BY ELIZABETH ACEVEDO
Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni’s life has been about making the tough decisions – doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands – whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone.
Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything, but she knows it’s pointless to pursue the impossible. There are rules she has to play by. And yet, once she starts cooking, and gets that fire on high, she sees that her drive to feed will feed her soul and dreams too. And anything is possible.
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Elizabeth Acevedo has been high on my want to read list ever since I heard of The Poet X. As I’ve recently been getting into cooking, I thought why not start With The Fire On High. I’ll admit, I half hoped there would be some delicious recipes – like recipe cards – in the book that I could give a try (and there was!).
What I got was a strong main character, a dash of romance, a dollop of family and friendship, and a hearty serving of passion! With The Fire On High is a coming of age story of a teen mother who is torn between motherhood and pursuing her dreams. This book draws a lens over teenagers who have had to step into the shoes of adulthood early on. Emoni Santiago is a mother to Emma, a student, and the breadwinner of her family. What I loved about this book is that it not only showed Emoni’s struggle to harmonize between being a mother and a teenager but also that she didn’t sacrifice one for the other.
This coming of age book does more than taking a character through a journey of discovering their identity. With The Fire On High throws light on circumstances wherein some people just can’t afford to pause their world to figure out who they are. Some of us have to keep moving forward, keeping others in mind, even as we try to find ourselves. I was completely captivated by this book, unable to put it down from the moment I checked it out of the library.
The chapters in With The Fire On High were shorter that usual but I found them to be just the right length to knead out the emotions. Acevedo’s writing just drips with gorgeousness. What I related to the most was Emoni’s intersection of cultural identities. Reading of how she used food as one way to show pride in her culture was inspiring – Emoni’s ambition was contagious. Her hustle and her selflessness will make you want to cheer for her. But it’s not just Emoni who’ll capture your attention. With The Fire On High is filled with some amazing secondary characters from Emoni’s grandmother, Angelica, and Malachi each have their own stories that they carry throughout the book. It filled me with pride and excitement to see them getting closer and closer to their dreams.
With The Fire On High is an introspective and heart-warming book that I would love for everyone to read.
🌺 What’s your favourite coming-of-age novel?
🌺 What’s your favourite family dish?