With the Fire on High is a touching story about family, determination, and feeling like you’re being pulled in so many different directions.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Whether it be the recipes at the beginning of each section, the mouth watering descriptions of the food, or Emoni’s complex family dynamics, I loved With the Fire on High. Everything from the little touches of the illustrated fruit, to Emoni’s fiery personality, With the Fire on High completely captivated me.
I just have to say that this book will elicit some serious cravings. Emoni has a innate talent for cooking. And what’s even more special, is that her relationship to food perfectly encapsulates the magic of food. How food can stir up memories, how it can make you feel, how it communicates all on its own. I took a course in college about food and eating culture in books and let me just tell you, With the Fire on High would fit right in.
At the same time, With the Fire on High is about her journey to follow her dreams. She has so much to juggle – her job, school, her child, and her own social life – that Emoni feels the heat. Because of how she takes into consideration her child, Emma (who is precious), her grandmother, and the needs of the family, Emoni seems to always come last. But With the Fire on High is about realizing that when we feel pulled apart at the seams, our dreams and desires are still important.
Identity & Family
Another part of what I loved about With the Fire on High is how Emoni talks about her identity. Her mother is from ‘the Carolinas’, while her dad is from Puerto Rico. She’s both black and Latina, but she feels like she’s constantly walking a tightrope between them. Like she’s not Latina enough because she didn’t grow up speaking Spanish, and not Black enough because of her Latina roots.
At the same time, Emoni struggles with her father’s absence. Even though he is around in her life, he spends most of his time in Puerto Rico. And she struggles with her feeling of being abandoned by him. It’s a relationship that takes up space and leaves gaping holes. Whereas her grandmother is the one responsible for raising her, and now for helping raise her daughter. It’s a tender relationship full of love, support, and memories. Plus she’s in contact with her aunt (on her mother’s side) even though Emoni can’t visit them. With the Fire on High focuses on our choices about our family – who we show up for, and who shows up for you.
Emoni is a character that you can’t help but support. She’s loyal, determined, and passionate. At the same time, she struggles with the future – the impossibility of it all – and knowing if she should try to follow her dreams. It’s a book with complex relationships – of things left unsaid, feelings unspoken, and words unheard. But it’s a book that will leave a delightful taste when you finish the book. About making the best with what we have, following our dreams even when they’re hard, and the necessity of spice to life.
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About the Author
ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She has two collections of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and winner of the 2016 Berkshire Prize, Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm (Tupelo Press, forthcoming). The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.
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Blog Tour Schedule
April 22 – Afire Pages | Welcome Post & BTS Look on the Cover Design Process
April 23 – Reading Peaches
April 24 – Shut Up, Shealea | Printable wallpapers/ bookmarks
April 25 – A Book Devourer | “The Life of Emoni; A Comparison”
April 26 – Bookish Wanderess
April 27 – Flipping Through the Pages
April 28 – Utopia State of Mind
April 29 – For the Love of Diversity in Books | Aesthetics + Quote Graphics
April 30 – The Royal Polar Bear Reads | Instagram Photos
May 1 – Endless Chapters | Recipe
May 2 – The Ultimate Fangirl
May 3 – The Wolf & Books
May 4 – Book Lover’s Book Reviews
May 5 – Weekend Reader | Cover Inspired Hairstyle
May 6 – The Writer and The Story | Favorite Quotes
May 7 – Themollyweather
May 8 – All Things Gene
May 9 – Darque Dreamer Reads
May 10 – Your Tita Kate
May 11 – Afergtale | “Stories Our Abuelas Wouldn’t Tell Today”
May 12 – F A N N A