After reading Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X, I was excited to find her newest book With the Fire on High. Unlike The Poet X, which was written in verse, this book is a traditional novel, but retains Acevedo’s incredible ability to create rich characters and environments.
From the publisher:
Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
With the Fire on High was fantastic. It features as its protagonist a hispanic teen mother – a combination I can’t remember seeing elsewhere. I appreciated that Emoni never felt her daughter was a burden, while still acknowledging that being a mother limited her options (i.e., she couldn’t “have it all”).
Acevedo builds a lot of growth in Emoni’s character arc. And the cooking scenes were a ton of fun to read about – especially when they went to Spain.
With the Fire on High is highly enjoyable, very well-written, and highly recommended.