With the Fire on High (Book Review)

In my opinion, a good writer is more than just someone who can weave together a compelling story.  It is someone who do can that while simultaneously eliciting emotions from readers. Book Lovers, I am here to inform you that Elizabeth Acevedo is a good writer. No, that’s too small. Acevedo is a phenomenal writer. In, With the Fire on High, she presents the story of Emoni Santiago who is a teenager starting her senior year of high school.  Emoni has more responsibilities than your average teenager. She balances parenthood with helping her grandmother (who is her sole guardian) pay the household bills. The kitchen is Emoni’s safe space. It is where she gets to unleash her creativity and tell stories through her dishes.

Emoni is settled into a routine of sorts until 12th grade begins and everything gets turned on its head.  There is the new culinary arts class that has the potential to teach her lessons and take her places she never could have fathomed. There’s the cute new boy who…likes her? And so much more! Throughout the story, Acevedo presents readers with a nuanced character. Yes, Emoni was forced to grow up quicker than most and has learned to handle her responsibilities head on. However, that does not stop the insecurities from making Emoni question herself and her future.  How she rises about everything will have you wanting to knock some sense into her on one page and crying happy tears over her victories a few chapters later.
With the Fire on High is a young adult book recommended for readers 13 years or older. Some of the themes, such as teenage parenthood and sexual interactions, may call for guided dialogue with younger readers.  Those themes, along with ones around caring for family and persevering through difficult times, are presented with care and readers of a slightly younger age will probably have the capacity to handle it. This book makes for excellent discussions so enjoy it with your young readers!

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