ARC Review: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo
ebook, 400 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2019 by HarperTeen
ISBN 0062662856 (ISBN13: 9780062662859)

Synopsis: 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.

My Review: In the words of Emoni Santiago, “With love & a sprinkling of cinnamon, always!” Elizabeth Acevedo delivers yet another real and original three-dimensional character who’s story makes me fall in love with contemporary all over again. Fire on High is the story about Emoni Santiago’s last year in high school as she marinates on her life’s decisions, stir her hopes and dreams, simmers in the possibilities and bakes to full maturity ready to take on the world of adulthood… and along the way, there are recipes for the soul. Emoni’s affinity for cheffing it up is a gift to the world. Hence the title Fire on High, this story is straight FIYY (Fire)! 

The character development was excellently executed. Each character was realistic, relevant to the storyline, and each was interesting enough to stand alone outside of this story. Emoni, our protagonist and narrator were especially relatable in her money struggles as well as tough decisions on love, school, and family. In fact, the unique elements of this novel are the dynamics of family, food magic, and human residency. The other elements of note are this book contains sexual innuendoes, teenage pregnancy, and underage drinking but these do not undermine the storyline and actually have life lessons interwoven. Emoni’s relationship with her daughter and choices reflect greatly on the consequences of teenage motherhood and in no way glamorizes the lifestyle. As does the few encounters with alcohol, so I found no flaw in their mentions. The pace of this novel flowed like stanzas of my favorite poem. Surprisingly, I finished this novel in six hours flat. With short chapters and an intriguing plot, I was definitely motivated. I especially enjoyed the immersion of Spanish among the English introducing me to new vocabulary to add to my Spanglish word bank. The ending made me cry tears of joy, resolve, and sadness that it was over. From the stunning cover to the captivating words, this novel will have you missing your imaginary best friend and secretly seeking an Emoni in the world to try that dish of chocolate pudding with a dash of paprika.

Rating: ★★★★★/5

*Thank you HarperTeen for entrusting me with an honest review.

Author: Kat

Book Blogger Future Librarian

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