Review: With The Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: With The Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 400 Pages
Published May 2019

Summary: 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.

When I first saw the cover of this book, I knew I absolutely had to have it. I know, I know, I'm not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes a gorgeous cover is what it takes to draw me in. So as soon as I looked into this book, I added it to my TBR, because it sounded really interesting, and -- like I just said -- the cover was absolutely gorgeous. I also read Elizabeth Acevedo's debut novel, THE POET X (you can read my review here!), so I had high hopes for this one. And let me just say, she definitely didn't disappoint.

As the summary explains, Emoni is a teen mom who is trying to chase her dream of becoming a chef, but things such as school, strict teachers, nasty girls at school, college (and the tuition it requires) are all standing in her way. But when she gets the opportunity of a lifetime to join a culinary arts class at her school, she's feeling a bit daunted by all of the challenges (both mentally and financially) that come with it. But when she takes that leap of faith and chases her dream, some unexpected things happen.

I absolutely LOVED this book, just as much as I loved THE POET X, if not more. For starters, the imagery of the food was absolutely gorgeous, and I loved the little recipes at the beginning of each section. I definitely am considering trying a few of them! As for what else I enjoyed in this book, I also loved Emoni's character and how she acted as a mother to Emma, on top of everything else she has to juggle, because no matter how stressful her life got, she always put her daughter first. I think seeing a teen mother in a YA book whose teen pregnancy is NOT the crux of the story was a really refreshing and positive change. 

Okay, now onto Malachi. He is just so adorable, and such a good friend and a good person to lean on, and every time he showed up on the page, I felt my heart flutter a little bit. He seemed like one of those genuinely good guys that everyone wants to get to know, and by the way everyone else in the book interacted with him, that certainly seems possible.

Seeing the way that Emoni worked so hard to make her dreams come true was really, really inspiring. If there's anything that I can take away from this book, it's definitely the idea that there is no situation too difficult to make your dreams shine through, even if it requires a lot of hard work and even some sacrifice. I was cheering Emoni on from the beginning of this book until the very end, and seeing everything she accomplished made me feel really warm and glowy inside.

Overall, I absolutely loved With The Fire on High. Not only does it have a gorgeous cover, but it also has some gorgeous imagery, characters, and themes. And it made me pretty hungry, as well! So if you haven't read anything by Elizabeth Acevedo yet, or you read THE POET X and wasn't sure if you should pick up her prose novel, I definitely recommend picking it up. I can't wait for more of Elizabeth's work!


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