With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
What it’s about: From Goodreads — “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.”
What I drank: Good christ what didnt i drink. left ALA early for a friend’s bday at a biergarten which was nice but wtf who cahrges for MIXERS. animals. then it was movies and aperol spirtzes and wine. What I drank: way way way too much happy hour prosecco
What I drank: I’ve actually had a difficult time writing this drunk because, well, feelings, so I’m taking a crack at it with a hangover.
Thoughts: This book. THIS BOOK. I had just finished it and then got to meet Acevedo at ALA, and I was a mess because I was still processing it. I know quite a few people who started their families early – including people in my own family – and this book made me understand them a little better. This book is just that damn good. This is a top contender for my favorite book of the year.
- It has the perfect tone for talking about a serious issue without being heavy-handed. Emoni’s teen mom status isn’t glamorized OR shamed, it just, well, IS. It also helps that Emoni’s a pretty mature high schooler who decides to own her shit and write her own narrative, and not let others write it for her. All the characters are well-used to illustrate the different aspects of not only being a teen mom, but a teen with limited resources.
- The sexual orientations, racial diversity, and economic diversity are used effectively; it never feels like any of it is to prove the book is diverse. Rather, it all comes together to paint a realistic picture of what the world’s like.
- Also not everyone is a total jerk with no redeeming qualities (when you’ll read it you’ll see who I mean). I hate YA books that make straight-up villains, because that’s not real. (Except for, like, villains like The Belles’ villain, where they’re so insane as to be wildly unpredictable.)
- Awwww all the adorable romantic relationships made me so happy, and the female friendship is so empowering.
- THE MESSAGE IS SO POSITIVE AND UPLIFTING. EMONI IS SUCH AN INSPIRATIONAL EMPOWERING CHARACTER. THAT ENDING WAS AMAZING.
Also I hate this book because it made me so hungry. I’ve been craving mofongo for DAYS. Everything Emoni cooks sounds amazing, and while I also don’t cook much with recipes, I feel like my shit never turns out as delicious as Emoni’s. Humph. I’m going to get plantains from Crisp and Juicy after I finish this.
This is so hard because I have so much to say and I don’t know how to put it in words, so just go read it! It’s amazing!
What I gave it: 5 stars
What I would pair it with: I think it’s because of the citrus-y book cover, but man a grapefruit soda would be delightful with this. It was refreshing and delightful. (Add vodka to taste.)