From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.
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.
The first thing that drew me to With the Fire on High was it’s cover, I instantly fell for it, it’s so beautiful. Looking at it filled me with limitless joy, I knew I had to get it without giving any attention to the blurb. While I was salivating at getting myself a copy, I had yet to read Poet X, all I was going on was the assurance my fellow reading friends only raved about Acevedo’s storytelling and how magnificent it is, and now after I have read both Poet X and With the Fire on High, I can comfortably agree with them 100%.
When I read the blurb, I didn’t know what kind of journey I would be embarking on because I had never read a book whose character was a teen mom and judging from the movies or series I have watched, their storyline is usually heavy and an emotional punch that makes me feel hollow at their plight. That’s not the case here because With the Fire on High is a story full of hope and brightness, different from the norm, inspiring and beautiful. It’s a coming-of-age story of a teenage girl who made decisions that led to her maturing and having grown responsibilities most of her peers can’t even begin to fathom.
The diversity not only when it comes to characters but the issues that are discussed, makes this book a great young adult novel because there are so many teachable moments within the pages. The style of writing and use of language is one that is beautiful and simple to understand, you can’t help but get lost in the story and root for Emoni. Reading about how brilliant her food is and seeing the recipes, made me sad because I too wish I can taste her food, this is my only issue with the book.
There’s not a single thing I didn’t love about this book. It’s a story about family, friendship, culture & self identity, food, hope and living life to the fullest despite whatever situation you find yourself in. Emoni’s relationship with everyone she interacts with is well portrayed and the emotions just kept slamming into me. The stories of major side characters where also entertaining to read and in the end how all the stories wrap up makes this book an endearing one and I’m happy it was my first book of 2021.