If you’re looking for a feel good story with very little drama and a heroine you root for, “With the Fire on High” is the book for you. I read this for a book club I’m in and was happy to find that most people loved this book as much as I did. Elizabeth Acevdeo is an amazing author and I want to read everything she has done. While this book is marketed as a young adult title, I would recommend this to any adult.
From Goodreads: 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.
The thing I loved the most about this book was the choice Acevdo made to show Emoni as a strong teen mother and not make the story entirely about her being a young mom. Every teen mother story doesn’t have to be a downer, with the mom facing impossible odds just to survive. Emoni is a strong, independent young woman who is dealing with her life the best she can but her daughter is not used as a plot device to make her struggle. She is a good mother and a good friend who is just dealing with the everyday normal things most high school students deal with. Her life is different, but her story is uplifting, not depressing. Emoni dreams of being a chef and nothing will stop her from accomplishing that dream. She relies on her own passion to succeed as well as help from her family and friends to be the best she can be. She sometimes has to make difficult decisions but does so with a level head and an amazing support system.
Acevdo is a brilliant writer (please read “The Poet X” if you haven’t already) and this book was so real and true to life that I felt like I knew the characters by the end. Emoni and her friends speak like young people do and the dialogue felt authentic. I liked every character, even the ones that were supposed to be the antagonists (as much as a book like this has antagonists). The relationships between Emoni and her ‘Buela and Emoni and her father were interesting and realistic and added depth to Emoni’s character. The plot was simple but engaging and ended in the way I hoped it would.
This book felt like a warm hug and was truly a delight to read. A charming heroine, relatable situations, and an easy plot make this one of the best books I have read this year. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to read Elizabeth Acevedo’s next book!
Favorite Quote: “The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance.”
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Published: May 7th, 2019
Rating: 5 Stars