Wednesday, May 27, 2020

REVIEW: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Harpercollins (Teen)
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Acquired: Library Borrow
Goodreads: ADD

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.

Word of advice before you start reading this book: make sure you've eaten. The food prepared in here made me hungry on a whole other level; Acevado can describe a meal like no one else.

Emoni Santiago is a teen mom in her senior year of high school, she also has an effortless penchant for creating incredibly delicious and memory-provoking dishes. College applications are on the horizon, but with a full plate at home taking care of her daughter and working a part time job, she's had little time to think about what her future might look like. After being encouraged to take a new culinary course offered at school, Emoni soon realizes that her dreams are bigger than she initially thought, but is raw talent enough to help her impress the right people? Or will she finally learn where a little focus and discipline can get her?

If you asked me to define 'wholesome' with a novel, With the Fire on High would be my response. The stakes were low, the conflict was non-existent and the food descriptions were mouthwatering. I found a lot of the aspects in here to be a little too well explained; ends too neatly tied up, and would have really liked to see the characters placed in some deeper waters, however the family dynamic warmed my heart, and the romance was innocent and cute (even though it felt a little forced at time). If you're looking for a breezy, thoughtless narrative, you should consider reading this one!

Read if you like:

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Key themes: 
friendship, romance, family, love, cooking


ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is a New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X, With the Fire on High, and Clap When You Land. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Poet X, won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She is also the recipient of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award. Additionally, she was honored with the 2019 Pure Belpré Author Award for celebrating, affirming, and portraying Latinx culture and experience.

Her books include, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes 2016), The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018), & With The Fire On High (HarperCollins, 2019), and Clap When You Land (HarperCollins, 2020).

She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.


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