Review: With the Fire on High - Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Contemporary
Published May 7th 2019 by Quill Tree Books

Source: Borrowed
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.

For someone who generally steers clear of contemporary books, especially the YA variety, I was so surprised at how much I loved this one.

Emoni was an easy character to root for and I loved that this book tackled the part of the story where you might normally see other books ending - the story of a teen pregnancy and the mother decided to keep her baby. With the Fire on High picks up a couple of years after the baby has been born and shows the reality of the decision Emoni made.

She's taking responsibility for her life, and the life of her daughter, all while holding down a part time job and still attending high school and all the general pressures and opportunities that come with that. Her relationship both with her daughter and her Abuela who raised her is not something you might see that often in YA literature.

This is the coming of age story about a young woman who has already held the responsibilities of an adult but with all the dreams and fantasies of a child. This is a story of passion and longing and having an amazing talent for something, but because of life circumstances not necessarily being able to pursue that passion. This is about learning to love all the different parts of yourself - your family, your achievements, your mistakes, your upbringing, your heritage.

It's complicated, it's messy - just like real life. But mostly, it's also full of hope and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who might be interested.


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