WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH
Written by Elizabeth Acevedo
Published by Harper Teen, May 7, 2019
My star rating – 5 stars
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. Find it on Goodreads
Wow! This book blew me away! As soon as I heard what it was about, I knew that this was going to be a book that I loved. A young mother finds a connection with cooking and tries to find a way to make her dream come true. I LOVE cooking! Always have. It’s always been a big part of my life and has been what brought our family together. But I didn’t expect to relate to this book as much as I did.
Emoni was such a great character! She hasn’t had it easy; she was raised by her grandmother after her mothers death and her father left. She then had her daughter when she was a freshman in high school. She’s all of a sudden responsible for the life of another at a time where she’s supposed to be figuring out who she is and what she wants. But, Emoni knows what she wants in life and she isn’t afraid to take the steps to get it. But, being determined as she is, she isn’t selfish. In fact, every decision that she makes, she first considers those she loves and finds a way that will include and work for everyone. She’s not fearless, but she finds a way to use her fears as motivation to move forward and accomplish the impossible. I absolutely LOVED that about her! I also loved that she was willing to put in the work, even when it threatened to drown her. She would be so exhausted by all the things she was taking under her wing, but she pushed through and always worked to the best of her abilities.
It was her passion for food and her journey to find herself that I most related to. I’ve always loved cooking! And all the shows that she was obsessed with were shows that I’ve seen every episode of. She would take a recipe and always tweak it to what she thinks could bring it to the next level….. so me! And, I was also young when I had my daughter. Not quite a freshman though. It was less than 2 months after I turned 23. I had just finished college and was working to save money for a house with my then Fiancee. I still had no clue where I was going to end up or what I wanted to be. So I absolutely related to this story of trying to find yourself while also being a mother and thinking of your child’s future as well. Suddenly you find yourself willing to make sacrifices so that you can make a jump start for your kid. Not that I think I made sacrifices…. we made decisions for our family, and i’m thankful for every moment.
This story was VERY empowering. Emoni was so strong and full of passion. She handled things in such a great way! And the family and friendship elements to this story were so heartwarming. Friends and family always being a point of love and support, no matter the situation. They had conversations about things that were bothering them, and worked together to come to a conclusion.
Lastly I want to mention the writing. I’ve heard so much about Elizabeth Acevedo and now I can understand the hype. She writes with such passion and emotion! You easily find you heart completely immersed in the story and characters and didn’t even realize it was happening. Her words are so effective and powerful and I absolutely LOVED her writing style! This is the type of book that you will feel in your heart and not want to stop reading. Here is an example (Please keep in mind that I was reading this from an advanced copy and the following quote may be different or absent in the final copy)
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.
The chapters are also really short which I loved. I would tell myself “just one more chapter” for about 15 chapters before I would finally stop….. it was so addicting!
I’m not usually the biggest fan of YA contemporary, but this one was extremely well done! It hit me in all the emotions, grabbed my heart and attention, and I will definitely be reading more from her! I absolutely loved this! Thank you so much to Harper Teen (HCC Frenzy) for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own and are uninfluenced.
Until next time, happy reading!