Aspiring chef Emoni has a lot on her plate – work, looking after her young daughter, and school. Juggling all of this is tough, but when she is in the kitchen, her mind is transported somewhere else as she unleashes her creativity on dishes drawn from her Puerto Rican roots, following her gut to make mouth-watering food full of flavour. When the opportunity to take a Culinary Arts class in school arises, Emoni can’t wait to get involved and see if she has what it takes to take her passion professional, but life seems to keep getting in the way of her dreams. She’s going to have turn her fire on high if she’s going to do her talent justice and show everyone what she can really do, regardless of the obstacles that the world throws at her.
They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I couldn’t help myself with the beautifully rich illustrations on With The Fire On High. It helps the book to really pop, to stand out from the other covers in a book shop.
This book has so much life – from the depth of the relationships between characters, to Emoni’s engaging internal monologue, Acevedo’s writing creates individuals with energy and complexity. Because of this, I devoured the book in a couple of sittings. It was easy to sympathise with Emoni’s struggles, and to root for her – some of the chapters were mainly her thoughts and included little dialogue, showing her backstory and helping us get to know the character. In other books, these kind of passages become dull and cause me to loose focus, but because Emoni was such an interesting character, this didn’t happen.
If you’re in a reading slump and you’re struggling to get back into reading, I’d really recommend With The Fire on High, because of the bitesize chapters, and also because the book is engaging from the very start, as opposed to having to read a couple of pages to get into the story.
Overall, this book is a beautiful exploration of themes such as teen pregnancy, family, and ambition; I wish I’d read this book sooner! It deserves much more attention – a very hopeful story that will make you feel warm inside.
Have you read this book or anything else by Elizabeth Acevedo? Let me know in the comments!