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'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.
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperTeen, [2019]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780062662835
Branch Call Number: YA Aceve
Characteristics: 389 pages


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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.

Sep 04, 2019

I honestly really liked this book and it was about a topic that I've always been curious about. The main character Emoni is a teen mom. It's her senior year of high school and as if applying for colleges isn't stressful enough, imagine having a toddler, a part time job and baby daddy drama on top of it! Dating is the last thing on Emoni's mind, but when a new student named Malachi peaks her interest, she does everything possible to keep him away. I really liked this novel because it really delved into mind of a teen mom. As a reader you experience Emoni's fears of dating again, after having a child and having a bad relationship experience with her baby's father. As a reader you experience what it would be like to go through a teen pregnancy, the judgmental words of adults, and the mean stares from classmates in the school's hallway, etc. It was honestly just so interesting to read about. The main character Emoni, was such an inspiration too, because even though she's had a hard life, she is hardworking and determined and believes in herself and her capabilities. To be honest if I was in Emoni's shoes, I don't know if I would be able to keep such a positive attitude, and keep on top of my goals as well as she has in this novel. I think Emoni was a great character, Elizabeth Acevedo did such a great job with character development. I even loved all of her side characters throughout the novel. I don't think I've ever read anything from a 'Teen mom's' perspective, so it was definitely a very unique perspective to read about and one I really enjoyed. Also in this book Emoni has a talent for cooking and there are actual recipes throughout this novel giving this book a little something EXTRA. This book honestly felt so short. I wish there was more, Emoni was just such a great character, and Malachi seemed like such a great guy. I really loved the romance and the dynamic between those two characters.

SPPL_TKBTeenChoice Aug 14, 2019

From TKB Teen Stella: This book is about a girl named Emoni who is navigating her senior year of high school while being a teen mom to her daughter Emma or “babygirl”. The most compelling aspect of the book is just how well Emoni handles everything life throws at her, and getting to see a teen mom’s perspective of high school.

sjpl_rebekah Aug 02, 2019

I have not yet read The Poet X, but I’ve heard enough hype about it that I was excited to get my hands on Acevedo’s newest novel. I have a feeling this book will also be widely acclaimed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it too is nominated for a Printz Award.

This book conveys many positive messages about family, identity, hard work, and following your dreams. I thought the whole thing was very smartly packaged and it’s short chapters will make it very appealing to reluctant readers. In fact, I would say this book could be categorized as a hi/lo reader (high interest, low reading level) for teens.

Although I was well past my teens when I had my first child, I shared many of the same feelings of inadequacy and frustration that Emoni struggles with throughout the story. As a full-time librarian, I often feel that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with my son. It is incredibly difficult to balance work and family, and Emoni has the additional pressure of school and being a single parent. While many teenagers must make difficult decisions about college and the future, Emoni’s responsibility to her daughter makes the stakes so much higher. I really like the direction Emoni’s character chooses in the end, and I hope it encourages others to follow a similar path.

I loved the fact that each part of the book is prefaced by a recipe. This book really got me hyped to try new things in the kitchen, and really changed the way I think about cooking as a whole. Very inspiring!

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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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