When I read The Poet X last year, I instantly fell in love with not only Xiomara but Elizabeth‘s writing and that book instantly became one of my favourites. When I heard about her new book, it was easily one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and I am so lucky to read an ARC of this book. And once again, Elizabeth won my heart with her writing, story and characters. And look at that cover! Isn’t it gorgeous?
The story revolves around Emoni, a single teenage mother, barely 18, who has to care for her daughter while doing the final year of high school. She lives with her grandma who raised her after Emoni’s father left her with his mother after the death of his wife.
Emoni is passionate about cooking and she has been told that she has magic in her hands. She loves to experiment with her food by adding different spices and giving them a twist. When she learns that her school is organising a culinary arts program with a one week trip to Spain, Emoni couldn’t resist herself from joining. But there are financial challenges that she has to overcome along with the care of her daughter.
What to expect: 🥘 Engrossing narrative and wonderful characters: You will instantly love Emoni and would root for her. Malachi is super sweet and so is ‘Buela. All the characters felt like real-life people and I loved them to the core. 🥘 Important topics explored: like struggles of half-americans, teen pregnancy, stranded relationships, low-income and fighting with your own fears to achieve your dreams. 🥘 Wonderful writing and fast narration: If you have read The Poet X then you probably know how beautifully Elizabeth writes. This book is similar too. Beautifully and concisely written. The chapters are small and the pace is fast so it never let you feel bored. 🥘 All the food: of course there is so much food.. because Emoni is an aspiring chef.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It has everything I hoped for- good story, wonderful characters, mouth-watering recipes, diversity and real-life problems. It shows you what it is to achieve your dreams in-spite of difficulties. It shows you how to be passionate about what you want. This book definitely felt fresh to me and I ended up wishing more.
With The Fire On High is the most delicious recipe of a coming-of-age, teenage parent who loves her daughter, Babygirl, to the ends of the world. There’s a core of racial and sexual diversity along with the hard recounting of a judgemental world while the base is all the dreams Emoni wants to see rise up. It’s a story worth devouring for all the characters who support and love this strong woman in every different way. Oh, and it’s topped with so much food, so many recipes, and so many musical recounting of the flavors of a dish!
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I loved this after being awestruck and highly impressed by The Poet X a few months back. Acevedo had easily made it to my list of favourite poets and seeing her prose fiction lined up for a release, I knew I was going to be impressed again. And sure I was!
The best aspect of this story was the diversity. And not just the diversity that labels you according to colour but a diversity that you embrace with all your heart; the culture that you want to show off through the things you do best–like Emoni recreating her family dishes with a little something extra. But the main character isn’t the only one blessed with the strength to wear their identity and their own ambitions with pride. It was refreshing to see a set of supporting characters who did support Emoni but who also carried their own stories forward.
Angelica, Emoni’s best friend, is a lesbian and a talented designer who is given the much-needed spotlight as the most supportive best friend one can ever ask for. Honestly, seeing these two made me shout goals more than anything! ‘Buela, Emoni’s grandmother, is an understanding woman of age and knowledge. She knows what’s best for her grand-daughter and the little Babygirl, and does all she can do for these two girls she loves. But she also doesn’t shy away from walking on a path that doesn’t just confine her to a set of roles.
I’ve always said that dreams and ambitions in stories are something I preach. I’m a strong believer of reaching for the moon so you can at least land among the stars, and seeing Emoni be such an enthusiast about her talent and her love for cooking is an honest inspiration. It’ll make you want to cheer for her with all your heart or you might end up being super motivated yourself. She has been portrayed as one of the most hustling teenagers I’ve ever read in fiction and that excites me like nothing else. She knows her priorities but she’s also not ready to give up on what she finds the most comfort in: cooking!
The representation of a teenage parent and most importantly, a mother, is heartwarming and the dripping with honesty. Right from the little sacrifices Emoni has to make to the fact that she doesn’t even consider them sacrifices because she knows she loves her daughter too much to not prioritise her over a few other things, every detail of her parenting journey is raw and displays affection in the best way possible.
Cooking is the essence of this story! It’s established as the most important aspect of Emoni’s life and no one’s complaining because honestly, who doesn’t like to read about food, about the way it’s being savored, about all the flavors, and sometimes full-fledged recipes. Evidently, Emoni has a talent for twisting dishes to make them taste different and even more delicious. Truth be told, reading this will compel you to become a chef and rush to that kitchen of yours…or to simply dine out or order something because everything sounds mouthwatering.
Well, that was a fair warning but trust me, you can’t stop yourself from falling for this love interest because he’s so much more than that! Malachi is a true friend first and his broad-minded male mind is a pleasant surprise because he doesn’t pay heed to what others say about a girl or what defines a girl according to norms. He’s immediately interested in Emoni front he first sight but no, it isn’t cheesy or cringey by any chance. It’s the most endearing and adorable love story that involves jokes, smiles, dimples, and all the cuteness you can imagine.
A coming-of-age story that defines a young adult character’s push toward the new adult direction due to circumstances is what calls to me. I always feel empathetic to characters who find themselves doing things no one of their age is doing because they need to take up responsibilities. It’s a very personal checkbox for me but I strongly believe it heightens the empathy and realism of a story always.
And there’s so much more I can say to help you understand how much I loved this book but it’ll only make you pick up the book a second later and fairly, I don’t want you to spare even a second. Just pick this up and fall in love with one, if not all, the amazing aspects of this story.
With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo comprises of three parts. Part One: The Sour, Part Two: The Savory and Part Three: The Bittersweet all these parts start with an exquisite food recipe.
Emoni is a teen mom living with her grandmother, Abuela. She loves to cook as her grandmother says she creates magic. She cooks when she is sad, happy, or to keep her busy. Her food, tells a story and kindles emotions irrespective of the eater. As a teen mom, she faces criticism and worries on how to follow her dreams.
There’s high school to attend and graduation on the way. Culinary class is hard and new Peurto Rican kid, Malachi is trailing behind her. But, Emoni is determined to take care of her daughter, Babygirl(Emma). After-school job, weekend shifts keep her busy. But her dream is on hold. Emoni tries to be strong for her Grandmother and Babygirl. How Emoni handles the society, friends, her baby with a financial struggle to achieve her dream is the novel.
I loved Emoni’s dream, the magic that she weaves – it’s compelling and inspirational. A story that is bold, entertaining, and awesome all at once. The book is written with great compassion and, the Author has to be appreciated.
The narration is smooth and delicious. There are recipes to enjoy. There’s passion in the book it inspires and, motivates. The book cover is bright and brilliant.
Overall a deep, daring, and vibrant book. Recommend the book to each one of you.