With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High

Book - 2019 | First edition.
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Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago has been 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. She dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, but knows that is impossible. But once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
Publisher: New York :, HarperTeen,, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
Characteristics: 389 pages ;,22 cm.


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From Library Staff

This is not your typical teen pregnancy story. Emoni is a teen parent who is juggling a lot between her home and school life. Her passion is cooking; she's a genius in the kitchen and she can let her home responsibilities go. But how can she dream about becoming a chef when she doesn't have the t... Read More »

From the critics

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AlishaH_KCMO May 14, 2021

After becoming pregnant with Babygirl freshman year, Emoni Santiago has had to make a lot of tough decisions based on doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let everything go and not have to focus on anything is in the kitchen, where she adds something magical to everything she cooks. She dreams of working as a chef after she graduates high school here soon, but Emoni knows that's not practical to pursue when she has other obligations. Yet, when the culinary arts class starts back up again her senior year, she adds it to her schedule, and once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let the magic of her talent speak for itself.

Once again, I'm in love with another Elizabeth Acevedo's book. I can't speak highly of her writing enough. This novel is written differently than the other two books I've read of hers, The Poet X , and Clap When You Land. Whereas those two were written in Poetry form, With the Fire on High is written in shorter chapter form. Though not to say these chapters don't have Acevedo's own lyrical, poetic writing in them. Emoni's voice is still very authentic.

Acevedo captured the life of a teenage mother - juggling school, work, motherhood, her Ex and his family, and her dreams. I also loved Emoni's relationship with her abuela and their connection. She knows abuela never really had an "empty nester" break and is very understanding, even if she feels extremely guilty about it all. Plus, 'Buela is such a badass, Emoni has a great female role model. I can't forget to put in a good word about Angelica though! So strong and supportive of Emoni no matter what - those two will make it through anything together.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a sweet, easy read about a hardworking, focused high school senior female.

"Although my food still doesn't give me any memories, it has always been looking back; it's infused with the people I come from. But it's also a way for me to look forward: to watch the recipes that from my roots transform, grow, and feed the hungriest places inside of me... Although I don't have all the answers for what is coming next, I can finally see a glimpse of where I, Emoni Santiago, am going."

May 14, 2021

This book was extremely addicting and I couldn’t put it down. Even though the book was 416 pages long it’s such a fast-paced story that you can quickly finish it in a couple of days. This is the first YA book I’ve read where the main character has a passion for cooking and for food. The imagery this story illustrates with the dishes that Emoni creates made me hungry just reading about them.

The story of Emoni and her struggles as a teenage mother opens one’s eyes to her situation and struggle. In society today there is a lot of judgement for young females who go through this ordeal, the author highlights those struggles and goes into detail in how ones priorities change in an instant. I enjoyed reading about Emoni and how even though she is faced with impossible decisions she still manages to persevere. I would recommend this book to any reader. 4/5 -@Dimanche of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Feb 03, 2021

Modern Mrs Darcy

Oct 22, 2020

The main character, Emoni Santiago, is a high school senior who loves cooking. Fortunately, her school starts a culinary arts course, and she decides to join and follow her dream of becoming a chef. Throughout the book, she learns how to balance caring for her daughter, work, cooking, and school. I liked how Emoni grew and matured in the book and how she persevered through struggles with her family and being a teen mom. I also liked a lot of the characters, but some of them seemed a little stereotypical and boring. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book! Age 13+

IndyPL_JessicaNS May 11, 2020

Elizabeth Acevedo knows how to write a serious book with just the right amount of uplifting joy and optimism.

Emoni is a girl who had to grow up quickly. Her mother died giving birth to her, her father couldn't handle raising her so her grandmother does, and she had a baby during her freshman year in high school. But this book is about so much more than that!

Emoni is a girl who knows her way around the kitchen. She makes dishes that make your mouth water as you read the description. I imagine that her food is some of the most flavorful food you could possibly eat. She is clearly gifted! The adults in her life pay attention to that and work to lift her up to reach for her dream.

This book has a very clear message--just because you're a teen mom (or a teenager with a lot to deal with) doesn't mean that your life can't become something far greater than you imagined it would. It is possible to care for another human being while also caring for yourself!

Recommended for teens ages 13+.

JCLMirandaA Mar 26, 2020

Emoni is a senior in high school and is struggling to find her place in the world, in addition to being a single mother and raising her daughter with the help of her abuela and making as much delicious food as she can. Acevedo’s filled this book with fire, love, and spices. She also was a master at capturing what it means to be stuck in between being an American, Black, and being Puerto Rican as well as being simultaneously accepted and rejected by both groups of people. As well as the importance of family and your dreams. Brightness and warmth color every page.

ArapahoeTiegan Mar 10, 2020

Elizabeth Acevedo is so good at creating unique and real voices for her characters. I loved the way Emoni was written - she jumped off the page with how real she was. I really appreciated this coming-of-age story about a girl who had a baby at 14, but continued on with school, and in her senior year struggled with figuring out what path she wanted to take to be able to provide a good life for her daughter, while also not losing herself.

Gina_Vee Mar 09, 2020

Let me give you a list of all the reasons I love this book:
1. Emoni is from my hometown and goes to one of my Alma Maters.
2. Emoni doesn't learn like everyone else is "supposed" to learn; you can't expect her to memorize and regurgitate. She has to do it and experience it to get it.
3. Emoni adores her daughter, and her relationship to her daughter reminds me of a friend's relationship to her own daughter.
4. Emoni is a bomb cook (and you might only get that saying if you're from my hometown).
5. The magical realism included in this book is so gentle that you barely notice it but will recognize it if you're a Like Water for Chocolate fan.
6. The supporting characters in this book are perfect for the story's setting and very true to its storyline.
7. It's a teen fiction book that doesn't overdo anything while still being grounded in the realities of life.

Did I already say I adore this book? Read it!

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Oct 03, 2019

A bit conflicted about this one. I listened to it, which definitely sweetened my opinion; the author is an excellent, genuine narrator. I had lots of love for the strong female characters lifting one another up. Lots of love for the #ownvoice representation and for the super realized setting (Philly). Lots of love for the somewhat unusual teenage hobby (cooking). And really, I'm tempted to leave it at that, because what I loved totally outweighs what I didn't. AND I think this story is needed. Unfortunately, some of the characters and situations were too simple and unbelievable to me, and much of the language about cooking/food/chefs a bit stereotypical. I have these sorts of quibbles with many YA books, though, and I am not the intended audience, so maybe take all of this with a grain of salt? (Ha.)

VaughanPLKim Oct 01, 2019

Emoni Santiago loves to cook, and her recipes are like magic. She has a talent for knowing which ingredients complement each other and how to turn a dish from good to excellent. She dreams of working in a kitchen, but it seems impossible. Emoni has a young daughter, and she and her abuela (grandmother) don't have a lot of money to pay for college. When Emoni enrolls in a culinary arts class at school, her eyes are opened to a world of possibilities. Emoni always put family responsibilities first, but she slowly discovers that she can still be a good mom and fulfill her own dreams.

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"My mother always told me one of the hardest things to be in a hungry world is a parent." ( p 304)

"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." (p 69)

Jul 17, 2019

"Home. I come for a place that's as sweet as curdled milk; where we dream of owning mansions and leaving the hood; where we couldn't imagine having been raised anywhere else. People wonder why I talk so hard, why I smile so rarely at strangers, why i mean mug and carry grit like loose change in my pocket. ... Where we come from leaves it's fingerprints all over us, and if you know how to read the signs of a place, you know a little bit more who someone is."

Jul 17, 2019

"sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can't."

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OPL_KrisC Jul 12, 2019

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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