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With the Fire on High

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for With the Fire on High

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chaima ✨ شيماء

    With the Fire on High was soft, enfolding, light as a dusting of snow upon my forehead, the kind of novel that deadens the harshness of the world and takes the sting from any barb. I floated through the story as if set adrift in a lifeboat on a gently rocking sea. Delight sluiced through me, and I tingled with the giddy buoyancy of reading a book that made my heart feel like it had grown too large for the confines of my ribs. No wonder, then, that when I turned the last page, the entire world se With the Fire on High was soft, enfolding, light as a dusting of snow upon my forehead, the kind of novel that deadens the harshness of the world and takes the sting from any barb. I floated through the story as if set adrift in a lifeboat on a gently rocking sea. Delight sluiced through me, and I tingled with the giddy buoyancy of reading a book that made my heart feel like it had grown too large for the confines of my ribs. No wonder, then, that when I turned the last page, the entire world seemed to be oversaturated, too bright, too sharp, swallowing the slice of light and returning me abruptly to darkness. Acevedo’s second novel centers around 17-year-old Afro-latina Emoni Santiago whose cooking is an instrument of wonder. When people taste Emoni’s food, something deep inside them, once misaligned, shifts back into its proper place. An aspiring chef, she dreams of attending culinary school where she can tend her skills, through practice and diligence, like gardens until they gleamed beneath the sun. But now whenever she sought those fantasies, her 3-year-old daughter’s face would not let them take root. Raised by her grandmother Gloria (whom she calls ‘Buela) after her mother died and her father became a figurehead moving in and out of her life with little permanence, Emoni is determined to be the best mother she could be. When Emoni’s school announces a new culinary arts class that will culminate in a weeklong apprenticeship in Spain, there was a ricochet of feeling in her, a tentative swell of hope flinching back toward the firmer ground of hopelessness. Emoni is not sure how long she can grasp after the tail end of her dream when so many responsibilities echoed through her mind like the tolling of a bell. But Emoni’s will has always been unwaveringly strong. When she got pregnant and the rumors and the snide remarks came thick as biting flies, Emoni pulled her fearlessness forth, mantling it like cream on every inch of her skin. And she will be just as undaunted in the pursuit of her dreams. With the Fire on High gripped me from the first couple chapters, and I promptly slipped into the sheathing warmth within it. Acevedo’s voice is resonant, warm, with a pull to it that reminds me of ocean tides. You can tell the author has a strong background in poetry, because the way she utilizes language throughout the novel is masterful. Her prose, so full of lyrical subtlety, searing clarity and an understated assuredness, scintillates. It buoys and soothes at once. The novel is also separated into sections, each of which is introduced with recipes so rich they linger on the tongue; it was such a lovely addition. The heart of the book, though, is motherhood. At that, it triumphs magnificently. With the Fire on High is simultaneously ardent and deferent. The graceful sense of sympathy and wonder—and along with it a guarded, hard-won hope—are what make this novel dazzle, even as a haze of helpless despair begins to creep through the pages. More intimate than a diary, Emoni’s narration wavers between funny and devastating. She is one of the most charismatic fictional creations in recent memory. Emoni is strong, unyielding, and there is a stunning vitality to her—her character gleams pearlescent, lit up from within, and it’s a delight to spend time with her. There is tenderness wounded into this book, ineffable and aching. And there’s despair, thick in the air as winter mists. But through it all, threading them together like jewels on a golden string is a torrent of love. The bottom falls out of Emoni’s dedication for her daughter, proving it an abyss, its depths unknown. She carries her daughter’s heart in her chest, and even when it seems that she has no hope and no solution, she revels in what she has instead—a caring grandmother and a healthy child—and she fights to protect it from the scolding eyes of everyone else. But the novel doesn’t shy away from the hardships studding Emoni’s path: so many wants and hopes lap at Emoni in a ceaseless tide, but difficult things are thrown her way in clumps and batches, unmanageable and messy, and if they would just let her go she would soon lie face down in the softness of the earth and sleep. Acevedo’s touch, however, remains light even when hopelessness encroaches on the story, and she surrounds Emoni with an unbending support system, which includes Angelica, Emoni’s queer best friend, Tyrone, Emma’s dad, who is steadily present in his daughter’s life, and Emoni’s ‘Buela with her quiet, unremittent love. Even Emoni’s father, a genuinely kind and generous person, but who is dogged by the loss of his wife ( “the best of him”, Emoni says, “is reserved for strangers,” but over the course of the novel, he learns to extend that benevolence to his own family). Emoni also meets Malachi, a kind and handsome new student, who indefatigably pursues her affections but never crosses her boundaries, and Emoni’s heart thaws for him regardless of how much she tries to put her veneer of remoteness back firmly in place. The romance that blooms between them is not only heart-warming but also realistic. Overall, With the Fire on High is an immensely warm-hearted treat that boldly gives voice to young women whose stories are often dismissed as cautionary tales. It’s a unique, hearty story that you can easily breeze through over a weekend. Trust me, I binge read most  of this book and it was the best therapy session that I’ve ever had! BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

    *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review by Harper Collins Frenzy. Thank you!* This was such a great read. So rich and vibrant, I felt like I could smell and taste each dish that Emoni made. She was an easy to character to love and root for and I enjoyed watching her journey throughout her senior year as a teen mom struggling to put herself first for once. Overall, I think this book was just as beautiful as the cover is (and that's pretty damn beautiful.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    My favorite book of the month so far. This was SO GOOD and Elizabeth Acevedo has definitely become an auto-buy author for me. Also side-note: I feel SO ATTACKED that all the food mentioned in this book is not currently in my mouth???????????? It all sounds so damn good I just 🤤

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lala BooksandLala

    Flawless

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    i loved this! rtc! <3 Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch

  6. 5 out of 5

    (Bern) Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

    "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." Elizabeth Acevedo has done it again! This sophomore novel is vastly different from Poet X, yet it is equally filled with boriqua pride, strong familial love and characters that ooze diversity. And that cover - breathtakingly gorgeous! Emoni is a (part Puerto Rican, part Black) teenage mom who was raised by her 'Buela (grandmother) after the death "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." Elizabeth Acevedo has done it again! This sophomore novel is vastly different from Poet X, yet it is equally filled with boriqua pride, strong familial love and characters that ooze diversity. And that cover - breathtakingly gorgeous! Emoni is a (part Puerto Rican, part Black) teenage mom who was raised by her 'Buela (grandmother) after the death of her mother in childbirth. How I adored her abuela and their strong relationship! Emoni's love and devotion for her daughter was everything. She wants so much for Emma and is willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to make something of herself. Emoni has magic hands when it comes to cooking. Her food literally evokes physical emotion in all who eat it as she essentially pours a bit of herself into every dish she makes. This dash of magical realism woven into the story was perfection. I thoroughly enjoyed the recipes and the emails to her aunt about food sprinkled throughout. Food plays as important a role in the story as poetry did in Poet X. Emoni struggling to find her way and working towards realizing her dreams was front and center here. It never took a back seat to the love story woven in which I absolutely appreciated. There were many strong secondary characters that impacted Emoni's life and added richness to the story. Her relationship with her best friend reminded me so much of my own that I couldn't help but smile each time they were together. A lot happens in this book and I happily followed along with Emoni's life with every turn of the page. The short chapters made it feel hard to put the book aside - I kept thinking "just one more chapter" and found myself done before I was ready to let go. Thank you to Elizabeth Acevedo, Harper Teen and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review this emotional and empowering story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lola

    Given that I recently read a book about abortion, I was particularly interested in this tale featuring a teenage girl who decides to keep her baby and struggles juggling school, work and Babygirl. The contrast between these two situations (terminate a pregnancy and carrying it out) is astounding but it just shows that we all should have the right to choose and in either situation we deserve respect and the freedom to work toward our dreams, however high they may be. A beautifully poetic story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Five distinguished, magical, tasty, heartwarming, poignant and definitely exquisite firing stars! Since I’ve read Laura Esquivel’s “ Like water for chocolate “, I started to enjoy reading books about talented cooks who pour their souls, their secluded emotions, their hopes and happiness into their food to create an art and serving one of the most pleasuring things of life by sharing their creativity! Just like Emoni Santiago did with her gifted hands, enduring soul. Her food is her reflection of Five distinguished, magical, tasty, heartwarming, poignant and definitely exquisite firing stars! Since I’ve read Laura Esquivel’s “ Like water for chocolate “, I started to enjoy reading books about talented cooks who pour their souls, their secluded emotions, their hopes and happiness into their food to create an art and serving one of the most pleasuring things of life by sharing their creativity! Just like Emoni Santiago did with her gifted hands, enduring soul. Her food is her reflection of her love for her baby girl, her Abuela who practically raised her, her heritage, her mom whom she never met, her father even he abandoned her when she was little baby , her pen-friend aunt Sarah who loves sharing recipes and her best friend Angelica! This book makes you smile, feeds your soul, touches and warms your heart! It was an amazing also emotional journey to read the story of struggling Emoni ! She’s taking responsibility of her baby girl( at some parts she also takes care of her Abuela and they change their roles) to give her best opportunities even if she is still too young, life pushes her growing faster to be a proper adult who also works after school to support her family ! When she starts taking culinary class, she finally understands her life purpose! She wants to be a chief!!! She works hard, does whatever it takes, sweats in pain for fundraising of their trip to Spain to learn more about international kitchens, working as an intern of Spanish chiefs, broadening her horizon and her skills. With her trip to Spain, she learns what a dream means and what she should do to fight against all the obstacles to make her dream come true! Finally she understands she is not only a baby mama who accepts what life gives her, if she wants something from deep in her heart, she needs to work hard and learn to get what she wants!!! The author achieves a perfect balance between realistic and poetic, lyrical fiction that makes you love all the characters and accept them with their all flaws, faults! You feel like they’re your real family members, lifetime friends, your school teachers, your boss or your boyfriend! This is real genuine, sincere , heart melting, gripping story! There is only one side effect of it. You gotta eat something or try the recipes of Emoni as soon as you finish it! But it’s worth to taste and definitely worth to read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    This is literally one of the most stunning covers I've ever seen. Wow.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    LATINX REP!!! YAYYY! I'M 50% LATINX (Maybe more?). But you could never tell. I'm as pale as a naked banana 🍌 Goodreads | Wordpress | Twitch | Pinterest | Reddit

  11. 4 out of 5

    chan ☆

    a fantastic prose novel from a fantastic author I'll start this review off by saying that I haven't had the chance to read Acevedo's debut, but everyone I've talked to raves about it. So requesting and getting approved for this ARC was really special and I'm really grateful I had the opportunity to read this. The book is about Emoni Santiago, a teen mom in her senior year at a charter school in Philly. She's got a passion for cooking and is trying to figure out what her next move is. Take a culina a fantastic prose novel from a fantastic author I'll start this review off by saying that I haven't had the chance to read Acevedo's debut, but everyone I've talked to raves about it. So requesting and getting approved for this ARC was really special and I'm really grateful I had the opportunity to read this. The book is about Emoni Santiago, a teen mom in her senior year at a charter school in Philly. She's got a passion for cooking and is trying to figure out what her next move is. Take a culinary class in high school? Go to college? But more importantly, this book was about culture and family and roots. I loved the way this story was told almost in little vignettes about Emoni's life. All of the chapters drove the story forward but getting little insights into pieces of her life in the past or little insights about being a young mother was incredibly compelling. And reading a book about a latinx character was really cool. I've never read a book with an afro-latinx main character and i really felt for Emoni and where she came from. This book was full of flavor, recipes, and love. I also really appreciated the ending and the overall "quietness" of this book. It felt realistic and complicated and messy. And at this point I'm just throwing out adjectives, but just know that this book was a really fantastic sophomore novel and I implore you all to pick it up.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    ARC provided in exchange for honest review 🍒

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    With the Fire on High reminded me of Robin Benway's Far from the Tree in a way that it takes a similarly super positive, almost syrupy sweet tone. Both stories are inspirational and lean on the fantasy of the tribes of supportive people that will lift you up and help you out of the direst circumstances. Fell-good? Yes. Realistic? Eh. Emoni is a high-school senior, a teen mom of a 2-year old daughter, and an aspiring chef. She works hard, she is nice and calm, she is also kind of bland. With the With the Fire on High reminded me of Robin Benway's Far from the Tree in a way that it takes a similarly super positive, almost syrupy sweet tone. Both stories are inspirational and lean on the fantasy of the tribes of supportive people that will lift you up and help you out of the direst circumstances. Fell-good? Yes. Realistic? Eh. Emoni is a high-school senior, a teen mom of a 2-year old daughter, and an aspiring chef. She works hard, she is nice and calm, she is also kind of bland. With the Fire on High is a story of Emoni's last year of high school and of her figuring out what to do with her life after. The problem with this novel is that there isn't really a conflict. Emoni strives for better life and achieves EVERYTHING that she wants through hard work and with the help of her grandma, ex, best friend, teachers, etc. She deserves for things to work out for her, but it also makes for a rather dull story. I also think that Acevedo's transition to prose from the verse of The Poet X was not a fully successful one. For every delightful turn of phrase, there is always a clunker of a "I let go of the breath I didn't know I'd been holding" variety (twice within a couple of pages!). It felt like Acevedo's rather tight poetry was expanded through the use of the lamest YA stock prose. Many good subjects brought up here - poverty, teenage pregnancy, post-pregnancy body, etc., but it all is sugar-coated a lot too, especially where motherhood and juggling child/school/work is concerned (who is paying for the kid's daycare? who watched her before daycare when Emoni went to school and work? does grandma do all the actual child caring? the same grandma who is on disability?), which made it clear Acevedo knows about raising kids mostly second-hand. Emoni’s is a well-meaning story, but the one often divorced from reality. You've seen Teen Mom. You know I'm right.

  14. 4 out of 5

    may ❀

    book #3 for summerathon, under the challenge of: "a book with food on the cover" ✓ we love beautiful covers and we love food and this book has both. pros - The story is incredibly rich and vibrant with colours and flavours and dishes - The recipes that were featured were so creative and the little doodles at the beginning of each chapter, adorable - I love the positive representation of teenager single mothers, the choices emoni had to make for her daughter and the loving relationship between he book #3 for summerathon, under the challenge of: "a book with food on the cover" ✓ we love beautiful covers and we love food and this book has both. pros - The story is incredibly rich and vibrant with colours and flavours and dishes - The recipes that were featured were so creative and the little doodles at the beginning of each chapter, adorable - I love the positive representation of teenager single mothers, the choices emoni had to make for her daughter and the loving relationship between her, emma, and her grandmother was just so sweet - I am a sucker for healthy family relationships and this one for sure delivered - The entire cooking experience was so in depth, I haven’t read a book that focused that much on food and my little chef heart was flying - Emoni’s character is so strong and I loved her confidence cons - The book felt long, idk if it was just me but there were parts that dragged a lot and felt unnecessary to the plot (a plot that already had so many interesting aspects) - like the drama with pretty leslie, I didn’t see that purposeful AT ALL - Emoni already has so much in her life and petty girl drama (tho it was resolved well) felt out of place like okay??? boys aren’t that ineretsting anyways - Wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. It felt cheesy and under developed to me, I preferred them just being friends tbh - not an actual diss to the book but I really dislike tyrone and his mom :)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Reads Ravenously

    4.5 stars! What a beautiful story! “I feel like I'm being pulled in a hundred different directions and my feet are stuck in cement.” The Poet X is one of the best new YA books I had read this year, and With the Fire on High does not disappoint. This book is about Emoni, a teenage mom in her senior year of high school trying to balance schoolwork, work and being a mom. Emoni loves to cook and when a culinary elective becomes available her senior year she joins the class. But class makes Emoni 4.5 stars! What a beautiful story! “I feel like I'm being pulled in a hundred different directions and my feet are stuck in cement.” The Poet X is one of the best new YA books I had read this year, and With the Fire on High does not disappoint. This book is about Emoni, a teenage mom in her senior year of high school trying to balance schoolwork, work and being a mom. Emoni loves to cook and when a culinary elective becomes available her senior year she joins the class. But class makes Emoni rethink her life, and pretty soon she's not sure what to do when high school comes to an end. “And sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can't.” I love Acevedo, I feel she's a voice that the young adult genre has needed for a long time. Her characters are so real and speak to many kids who haven't seen themselves in books before. I think this was a wonderful story about resilience, hard work and love. I hope many readers love it as much as I did, even more than I did. And also, I am super hungry after reading this book and need to chow down ASAP! “Whatever we are to become, I'm glad that we can laugh through the uncomfortable moments.” Follow me on ♥ Facebook ♥ Blog ♥ Instagram ♥ Twitter ♥

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    "Santi, I want to ask you something." I stop in the middle of the hallway and wait for him to catch up. He takes his sweet time walking over, Pretty Leslie on his heels. "Wassup?" I say. I give Pretty Leslie a head-nod and she looks between Malachi and me, her perfectly penciled-in eyebrows furrowing. "I'm good, Emoni. How are you?" She pops her gum, then lowers her voice in a fake whisper. "How's your daughter?" I force myself to keep smiling. I'm not ashamed of my baby. I'm not ashamed I had a bab "Santi, I want to ask you something." I stop in the middle of the hallway and wait for him to catch up. He takes his sweet time walking over, Pretty Leslie on his heels. "Wassup?" I say. I give Pretty Leslie a head-nod and she looks between Malachi and me, her perfectly penciled-in eyebrows furrowing. "I'm good, Emoni. How are you?" She pops her gum, then lowers her voice in a fake whisper. "How's your daughter?" I force myself to keep smiling. I'm not ashamed of my baby. I'm not ashamed I had a baby. I'm not ashamed I'm a mother. I lift my chin higher. "Babygirl's real good. She just started daycare little over a month ago. Thanks for asking." I look Malachi straight in the eyes. His dimples are gone. "That's wonderful!" Leslie says. "I don't know how you do it, girl. I couldn't imagine being a parent in high school. Right, Malachi?" But Malachi isn't listening to Leslie. His eyes are on me. If there was one thing I learned once my belly started showing it's that you can't control how people look at you, but you can control how far back you pull your shoulders and how high you lift your chin. Boys think of only two things when they find out you had a baby: thing (1) that you're too much baby-mama drama, or thing (2) that you're easy. Malachi pushes off the wall, but I keep myself as still as a dancer waiting for her cue before she spins. "You called my name because you wanted to ask me something?" "Santi, do you like ice cream?" I glance at Pretty Leslie. She looks as surprised as I feel. "Uh, ice cream?" "I have a craving for ice cream. If you're not busy after school, you want to get ice cream?" He's the most serious I've ever seen him. I look between him and Pretty Leslie. The fake sweet smile she was wearing has cannonballed clear off her face into a pool of confusion. Is Malachi asking me on a date? In FRONT of Pretty Leslie? "I mean I know we're not friends, or whatever." He smiles. The playful gleam is back in his eyes. "But I was hoping we could talk." I let go of the breath I didn't know I'd been holding. "I'll meet you at the main entrance after the bell." And even though 'Buela raised me right, she didn't raise me to be nobody's punk, so I don't bother saying shi- ISH to Leslie. And damn if I don't have a little swag in my step as I walk to English. pg. 107 I don't know exactly what I was expecting as a follow-up to Acevedo's debut The Poet X. This book isn't written in verse. It's about a 17-year-old girl who got pregnant freshman year and is raising her daughter with the help of her abuela. Her mom is dead and her dad hasn't been in her life since she was born. Far from being a sad book, this is a hopeful, rather light-hearted YA considering the subject material. The roughest part of Emoni's life seems to be behind her. Sure, she is a single unwed teenage mother who is a senior in high school. But her loving grandmother is helping her raise the baby. The baby's father is a piece of shit in a lot of ways, but at least he loves his daughter and takes her every other weekend. Emoni is portrayed as an amazing cook. She decides to take a culinary arts class her senior year. She is raising a child, going to high school, working part-time at a fast-food burger place. Her circumstances may lead you to think this book is depressing or full of 'issues.' It isn't. It's pretty upbeat and positive. Emoni is very confident. She doesn't let people's judgments get her down. She is strong, capable, hard-working, she doesn't take any shit. I don't know how realistic this is - I suppose it is possible someone could build up these skills after three years of being a single parent. I liked her. Strong, confident women who take no shit are my jam. She has a strong female friendship with her lesbian bff Angelica. She butts heads with mean-girl Pretty Leslie. She starts dating for the first time since her child was born, and that comes with its own set of problems, especially involving her piece-of-shit ex. The book isn't really a romance. Nor is it a struggle-book. Nor is it about race and class. Nor is it about being Latina and cultural mazes. Instead, it's kind of a mixture of all of these things. And always with a kind of hopeful, positive seasoning sprinkled over it all. Acevedo never makes us feel hopeless or despairing, even though that's how most people would feel being in Emoni's position. But she's relentlessly optimistic and she doesn't let life or other people get her down. I was a little bit afraid this was going to be a tired rehashing of my-magical-cooking-makes-people-feel-things-when-they-eat-it, especially after this passage on page 45. When he finally shoved into me, it stung. For a second I wasn't sure if I wanted to push him away or pull him closer, and then he was panting and sweating on my chest and apologizing. And I kept telling him it was okay, thinking he was apologizing for hurting me, until I realized he was apologizing because it was over. I never even took off my bra. It didn't even last the entire Weeknd song playing in the background. A bubble of disappointment swelled in my chest and I didn't know if I was holding back laughter, tears, or a feeling that I didn't know then how to name. All I could keep thinking was that he definitely didn't have any sweet words or niceness in the moment that I needed it most. I cleaned my own self up, put on my pants, and left. He didn't even say goodbye. When I got home that afternoon, I peeled a ripe plantain. Its skin, dark as night, letting me know how sweet it would be. I sliced the plantain up into a dozen ovals, tossed them into a pan on the highest heat, and cooked them until they almost burned; the sugar turned bitter. I plated them with no accompaniment and I ate and ate until there was nothing left on my plate but a smear of oil. It made me sick to my stomach. To this day, whenever I've served someone maduros they end up crying, teardrops falling onto their plates for reasons they can't explain; and I can't eat them myself without weeping, without a phantom ghost pain twingeing [sic]between my legs. Ever since Tyrone, I don't really talk to boys like that anymore. Boys at this age will say whatever they need to say to get what they want, and I've learned to trust pretty words even less than a pretty face. Although Acevedo does let us know that Emoni's 'magical cooking' does make people emotional and remember things from their past, luckily this time is the only time she suggests that Emoni's emotions are transmitted to her diners through food. Thank heaven. Sex and romance plays a side role in this book. Needless to say, Emoni doesn't trust boys. Tyrone got her pregnant when she was 14, and he is a piece of shit. Not just because he impregnated a fourteen-year-old girl, but because he was shit in bed, emotionally manipulates her, cheated on her. Now they are broken up, but he fucks whomever he wants to fuck but she's not 'allowed' to date anyone. He's no longer fucking her (not like he was loyal to her when he was) but he still thinks he owns her and he's the only one who has a right to her body. He's shit. Not that Emoni is eager to jump into dating. She hasn't seen anyone romantically in three years because she's learned men are shit and not to be trusted. In walks a near-perfect mensch, a transfer to her school. Acevedo seems fond of presenting her heroines with mensch-boyfriends. It's not like I don't approve, I love mensches. The reason I read romance is to read about mensches. However, some readers may find this unrealistic. After suffering as she has, of course Emoni deserves a good mensch boyfriend. Don't read this book for raw realism. Although Acevedo is tackling tough issues like teen pregnancy, race, class, colonialism, being a single mother, having absent parents, being poor, etc. etc. this isn't a heavy book that treats a reader roughly. Instead it is a happy, positive, everything's-going-to-be-alright book. I think The Poet X was a lot more raw (even though that was also ultimately a positive book). People expecting a second The Poet X might be disappointed. Acevedo's writing isn't poetic or exciting. It's rather run-of-the-mill, although she does get some good one-offs like But then he smiles. Dimples popping out on both cheeks like billboards for joy and I stumble over my own feet. pg. 66 But overall it is not as stimulating as reading The Poet X. EMONI I liked Emoni. She doesn't allow people to shame her for getting pregnant at age 14. She loves her daughter. She doesn't take shit from other people. She doesn't trust males and she isn't afraid to stand up to them and tell them what the rules are when it comes to sex (she's learned this the hard way). She is a hard worker and she is smart. "I just want you to make something of yourself," Ms. Fuentes says. I almost suck my teeth. I love Ms. Fuentes, but sometimes she says real stupid shit. "I think there are lots of ways to 'make something' of yourself and still support your family. College isn't the only way." pg. 123 It's times like these ^^ I was leaping to my feet and pumping my fist. Yes, TELL HER, Emoni! Life is so complicated and unsure, I like how Acevedo doesn't fall into the trap of thinking life has to go a certain way in order to be "good." Usually I have to urge female characters to stand up for themselves. I have to command them to be stronger and start clapping back but I didn't have to do this with Emoni, which was quite refreshing. She already knows how to handle herself. It was beautiful. He pretends to shudder in fear, and the giggle that springs out of my throat isn't something I've heard in a long time. It doesn't sound anything like me at all. I feel those first crush butterflies that I thought I'd never feel again, which I know sounds silly for a seventeen-year-old to say, but some days I don't feel like a seventeen-year-old. pg. 167 The book also does a good job in addressing how Emoni is not a girl, even though a lot of people treat her like one. She's a mother, she works for money. She has bigger concerns in her life than if a boy likes her or what the upcoming project is in English class. It's hard to present as a girl, a high school girl but be shouldered with adult responsibilities. And no one can take away those responsibilities and return her to girlhood. This is her life now. But it's hard because often she has to fight 'adults' who still view her as a child even though she is raising up her own child. I really admired both Emoni's stand-up-for-herselfness and her unflinching shouldering of responsibility and hard work. The only negative thing I will say about her is that she doesn't care about the lives of other people. She does not delve into the life of anybody outside of herself - with the sole exception of her best friend Angelica, but even then it's pretty shallow delving. Her grandmother, her rival, her mentor, her teachers, her mensch boyfriend - she can't even be bothered to ask basic questions about their lives. She knows basically nothing about them because she has zero curiosity about their lives and what drives them as a person. She reminds me of Conway Twitty from Twins Under the Christmas Tree. She has no interest in anyone but herself. She doesn't even bother to learn basic things about other people - including her own boyfriend! - that her friends and family ferret out pretty quickly. It's because she doesn't give a fuck. I couldn't relate to her complete lack of interest in other people. I like to get to know people and what makes them tick. She doesn't give a damn. She could know someone for years before realizing they were Muslim or that their mom died of cancer when they were a kid or that they had parents that were divorced. SMH. She just doesn't care. TL;DR: Pretty good book. Kept my interest. General story - not focused on any one particular topic, just kind of covering what happened to Emoni in her senior year of high school. That was great because you get a little bit of everything: romance, friendship, family, work, passion, race, class, adulthood, and parenting. Emoni was a fierce and smart woman - I liked and admired her. She sure took care of her shit and didn't let other people railroad her. I liked her meeting a mensch who was going to treat her right and perhaps change her mind about men. However, I can understand if people thought the book was too positive. I enjoy positive, uplifting books, but sometimes people read YA for the angst. There's so much angst in YA, and so many books that are just agony-porn in a lot of ways. This isn't, and that might upset some people who want something more raw and angsty. Listened to this interview with Acevedo on 1A only after I had penned my review, she touches on some of the topics I've touched on. https://the1a.org/shows/2019-05-06/el... Link courtesy of Chance. NAMES IN THIS BOOK Babygirl f Emma Angelica f Emoni f Clara f Laura f Julio m Sarah f Amir m Pretty Leslie f Malachi m Cynthia f Nya f Steve m Sharif m Elena f Amanda f Talib m Gloria f Brenda f Lisa f Richard m Jordyn f

  17. 4 out of 5

    ✩ Ashley ✩

    ✩ 3.5 Stars ✩ Audiobook Performance: ★★★★ ——————————————— Okay I’m calling it: ♡ BEST DAMN COVER OF 2019! ♡ *Loving it!!*

  18. 4 out of 5

    Britt / Basically Britt

    Such a wonderful audiobook!! I literally listened to it in half a day and really enjoyed it! <3

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    At this point I’m starting to wonder if Elizabeth Acevedo is capable of writing anything but a 5 star masterpiece that’s relevant and rich with culture and spark. I call witchcraft.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    All I have to say about this book is that, by the end, it had me trying not to cry into the food I was making. Elizabeth Acevedo did it again, y'all.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rincey

    A worthy follow up to an amazing debut

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    I always love stories about young women growing their ambition and everything, but also, the cover of this is too beautiful i'm not fucking able to process it

  23. 4 out of 5

    Misster Reader

    More like With My Feelings On High. Seriously, at this point Acevedo might as well take my credit card information, because I'm not even taking a second glance at whatever book she comes out with next before ordering it Wow M, what is this glorious book about? Well Suzan, I’m glad you asked. With The Fire on High follows Emoni a Latinx sixteen year old mom. Since Emoni was little she’s had a strong passion for cooking. More than that: she’s good at it too. In fact, her dishes are known to have a More like With My Feelings On High. Seriously, at this point Acevedo might as well take my credit card information, because I'm not even taking a second glance at whatever book she comes out with next before ordering it Wow M, what is this glorious book about? Well Suzan, I’m glad you asked. With The Fire on High follows Emoni a Latinx sixteen year old mom. Since Emoni was little she’s had a strong passion for cooking. More than that: she’s good at it too. In fact, her dishes are known to have a sprinkle of magic that takes you back to a special memory. However, now that graduation is around the corner Emoni is struggling to figure out what she wants to do about her future and whether or not cooking will be at the center of it. Before we get to the meat of it all let’s start with one of the main things that makes me fall in love with Acevedo’s work. That prose? I realize how snobbish I sound but my golly. It’s just so…Beautiful. Lyrical. Simply magical. I have yet to read from another author that makes me melt with how nuanced and musical their writing is. Honestly, a true gem. If I could highlight the whole book I would. But taking it a step further: a beautiful book with beautiful representation. The Poet X quickly became one of my favorite novels of all time, because it was the first time I’d seen myself in a book that wasn’t The House On Mango Street. No shade to Cisneros on that, because that my friends is also a true gem. What I mean is it was the first time that I realized how important representation is. I cried just from reading someone’s perspective that resembled my own (and I’m not a crier!) So I’m forever grateful to Acevedo and her work, which fight the good fight, and help build a world in which beautiful Latinx main characters may exist. Now, getting to the book content itself. I loved the author’s take on relationships in all aspects of Emoni’s life. They all felt fully alive and complex as most relationships in one’s life are. Starting with Abuela which I felt was a special touch, because how many kids grow up with their grandparent being a primary guardian? It wasn’t my case growing up, far from it, but I think representation of that is touching to anyone’s reflected reality. Even just the interactions between Emoni and her baby daddy’s mother felt fully fleshed out. Something that sadly happens too often are bitter mothers lashing out at their sons’ girlfriends, because they’re afraid of their babies leaving the nest. Speaking of baby daddy: I loved that Emoni didn’t end up with her baby’s father. I think there’s a lot of emphasis out there on staying with the father of your child, an admirable and selfless effort, but sometimes you have to realize that if the only thing keeping you two together is that child, then that not may be the most healthy nor fulfilling relationship. Still, they were able to coparent without any animosity, which is another element I much appreciated. Additionally, it’s not main component of the story but I’m glad Emoni was able to find a romantic relationship despite everything. So often we pass judgment on pregnant teens and warn them off guys forever, but that doesn’t need to be the case. I thought Emoni (and thus Acevedo) handled the whole thing in a mature and beautiful light. Finally, I love a book with passion. I myself am passionate about work and truly get a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction from it. I had yet to read a book about that passion aimed toward cooking and boy did I love it. (Perpetual hunger is the new thang y’all.) No, but for real, I love how passionate Emoni was about the culinary arts. I love the exploration of how talent doesn’t always mean success. Emoni is clearly talented in this field and yet Chef gave her a difficult time for not following instructions. Sometimes it’s hard to sober up and listen to critiques when you feel like you’ve got a gift, but often times the most gifted are the ones who’ve got the most to learn. All in all, I thought this was a fantastic sophomore novel. Quite different from The Poet X, but just as rich and poignant. I’d also like to give a bonus star to the talk of university. I think a lot of people forget that different people can get to the same place through different means (including not going to college). Overall, I felt that Acevedo explored a variety of topics in a meaningful yet easy way that I think will be beneficial to a lot of teens. Even if I did feel like she said Babygirl too often.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    Okay, first of all: this cover is GORGEOUS. Second: The premise sounds bomb af and I can't wait to read this!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    I loved this. The writing is so simple, poetic and yet moved you - I was tearing up at the end, it had the sort of ending I love (says the girl who hates contemporary fiction). The characters and the dynamics, it all clashed and flowed together wonderfully to create this novel. I love Acevedo’s writing style; the way she mixes things up is so interesting and such a lovely breath of fresh air.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Before I began reviewing this book in depth, I have to begin saying that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. Plot, characters, all of it was superb. I loved how the writter develops the narrative. You have small-ish chapters that make it easy to move from one to another, and the lecture grips you and doesn't let you go. You promise yourself just another chapter, 'cause they are short, right? But you can't put down this book, is that good. The narrative flourishes, is easy to read and is really well constructe Before I began reviewing this book in depth, I have to begin saying that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. Plot, characters, all of it was superb. I loved how the writter develops the narrative. You have small-ish chapters that make it easy to move from one to another, and the lecture grips you and doesn't let you go. You promise yourself just another chapter, 'cause they are short, right? But you can't put down this book, is that good. The narrative flourishes, is easy to read and is really well constructed. Also, I loved how all the characters have they own way of talking, and it reflects on the writing. For instance, 'Buela uses a lot of spanish words, honoring her Puerto Rican ancestry. Talking about that, I have to say that I love a book like this one, where the main character is a mixed black woman, and all her relatives and/or friends are also mixed or black. We need more diverse books, representation matters, and I do love reading books where the main character isn't white. I also enjoy a lot all of the different aspects having people of color add to a book: different ways of talking, thinking, ways to see things... It makes you put yourself on other people's shoes and see how they see the world and how they are affected by people and their reactions (there is a chapter on the book where Emoni, the main character, reflects about it on a bus, how people judge people differently depending on them being white or black). I really like that a book makes me think, and makes me realise or see things I haven't given much thought before, or even if I had, I needed to see the prespective, you know? The plot of the book follows the life of Emori, a single mom, barely 18, who has to care for her little one and lives with her grandma. She has been raised by her, and we are gonna see the stranded relationship she has with her father and why things are as they are. We are going to meet her bestfriend in the whole world, and appreciate the power of women's sorority. And we also are going to met the new kid on the hood, who is going to be a turning point for Emori and her way to relate to the male species, after her first boyfriend left her pregnant and sort of was an ass (my words, not hers... exactly). And talking about relation ships, I loved the fact that the author isn't afraid of telling girls they can follow their own pace, they can voice what they want out of a relation, share their thoughts and fears with the other person and also ask for time when they need it, let it be before comitting to a relationship or having sex. For all of this, I just loved this book. Is so different to anything else, and so full of uniqueness that I just couldn't put it down.

  27. 5 out of 5

    laurel [suspected bibliophile]

    Buddy Read with Shorouk and Dolinka for The Procrastinators Book Club Emoni Santiago has a lot on her plate—juggling school, a part time job at the Burger Joint, and a toddler. But she has a passion for cooking and a dream, and she's not going to let anything stop her. This is fucking amazing. I think Elizabeth Acevedo is now one of my auto-buy (or auto request from the library) authors. I was late on the game in reading The Poet X, but that was amazing. With the Fire on High is a completely differe Buddy Read with Shorouk and Dolinka for The Procrastinators Book Club Emoni Santiago has a lot on her plate—juggling school, a part time job at the Burger Joint, and a toddler. But she has a passion for cooking and a dream, and she's not going to let anything stop her. This is fucking amazing. I think Elizabeth Acevedo is now one of my auto-buy (or auto request from the library) authors. I was late on the game in reading The Poet X, but that was amazing. With the Fire on High is a completely different novel, and so, so good. I have no words, beyond that Emoni is amazing and she had fantastic teachers, friends and abuela supporting her along the way. It's less an issues novel and more a slice of life story as one girl navigates her massive responsibilities and tries to do what she loves most. There's a bit of magical realism à la Like Water for Chocolate, but it's very light. Emoni does a little growing up, but mostly this is about her gaining the confidence to pursue her dreams and find her own course in life—she's already done more growing up than most teenagers. A lot of things are touched upon, like poverty, gentrification, colonization, history and climate change, but mostly it's about confidence, passion and family. Particularly that family is both blood and those who have your back no matter what. Read it read it read it. Edit: Damn I said amazing a lot in this review. Kids, don't write reviews after taking painkillers (and maybe don't join any organization that'll fuck your back because chronic back pain is a biiiiiitch).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Gillespie

    ARC received by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. "Sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can’t." The first time I saw the cover of this book I fell in love, it is so gorgeous!! This book means so much to me! This story was very empowering. Emoni was such a strong character and full of passion. Also the amount of representation in the book was excellent. Emoni is part Puerto-Rican and Black and a  te ARC received by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. "Sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can’t." The first time I saw the cover of this book I fell in love, it is so gorgeous!! This book means so much to me! This story was very empowering. Emoni was such a strong character and full of passion. Also the amount of representation in the book was excellent. Emoni is part Puerto-Rican and Black and a  teenage mother, there is also a lesbian side character. Emoni is told that she has a magic touch when it comes to cooking. She takes a recipe and makes her her own by adding spices she believes will enhance the flavors. I felt such a deep connection to Emoni, she is a badass single teen mom, with a beautiful little girl. Many of you probably don't know that I had my son Noah when I was 17.  I understand her struggles, she wants to provide for her daughter. To make the right decisions so that there future will be secure. I have never felt such a connection with a character before, I cried so many tears throughout this book. When Emoni discovers she has a chance to take a culinary cooking class as an elective in school. She cannot decide if it's the right choice to take the class,they will also be going on a trip to Spain at the end of the semester. She already has to keep up with school work, and she works part time to help cover the cost of the baby, plus actually taking care of the baby. Emoni has a lot on her plate. She dreams of becoming a chef and someday working in a restaurant. This book could have been full of stereotypes about teen mother's, but it wasn't. It was a beautiful story, about a girl despite her circumstances goes after her dream. Oh my Goodness, I'm crying again just typing this review. " I want to be able to take care of my own and the only thing I would want to study is culinary arts, but why try to learn that in a school when I could learn it in a real restaurant where I’m making money instead of spending it?”"  The side character's were also an amazing addition to the story, Emoni's best friend is her rock. She has been there for her all through her pregnancy and remained after the baby was born. She is also a lesbian and has the cutest relationship! The chapters are also really short which I loved. The start of new sections also has little recopies which I thought was a nice touch.It was next to impossible to put down With the Heat on High. Overall, I would strongly recommend this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vicky Who Reads

    I expected nothing less than greatness from Elizabeth Acevedo

  30. 4 out of 5

    Malanie

    "My father is Puerto Rican, and he's darker than my mom was, and her whole family is straight-from-the-Carolina's Black. And her hair was just as curly as mine. Not all Black women, or Latinas, look the same." I would like it to be known that Emoni is a badass teen parent + such a loving/hard-working mother to her smol tiny daughter Emma. Emoni feels SO REAL, from her dialogue to the way she confronts struggles.I loved her + loved every time she cooked something delicious. I want Emoni to coo "My father is Puerto Rican, and he's darker than my mom was, and her whole family is straight-from-the-Carolina's Black. And her hair was just as curly as mine. Not all Black women, or Latinas, look the same." I would like it to be known that Emoni is a badass teen parent + such a loving/hard-working mother to her smol tiny daughter Emma. Emoni feels SO REAL, from her dialogue to the way she confronts struggles.I loved her + loved every time she cooked something delicious. I want Emoni to cook for me, I would spend my life savings at her future restaurant. It's pretty much impossible for me to not love a passionate character. If a character is *really* obsessed without something, I automatically respect + adore them. && Emoni is obsessed with her daughter + cooking, and I all added up to SO MUCH OBSESSION ON MY PART. The main problem I had with this book was that the romance felt unnecessary. I wish we could have focused more on the MC + her lesbian best friend + the MC's struggles with life. I wanted to put this on my "no romance" shelf with so much energy. Also, the main character's ex-boyfriend /the father of her child was controlling/possessive/disrespectful. This is a huge anxiety trigger for me because I've dealt with controlling/frightening boys in the past and reading about relationships like this is hard to go through. But, objectively it was handled well c: There are also little recipes throughout the book which I found SO COOL????? I'm usually too busy spiraling into existential dread to cook, but I also really love recipes & food which Emoni shares extensively. I really loved this + the way Emoni free styles everything. Which is basically everything I cannot do, I usually follow recipes step by step with hidden terror that I'm going to screw everything up. lololollllllll Overall, this was an excellent book with a cover my gay heart enjoys staring at. ARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. | 💜TWITTER💜 |💜 BOOKSTAGRAM💜 |💜 BLOG 💜|

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