Reviews for With the Fire on High

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Acevedo has done it again: the multi-award-winning author of The Poet X (2018) here delivers perfection, from the cover art featuring a young Afro-Latina woman looking out, her curls picked up in a scarf, and kitchen staples framing her face, to Acevedo's keen, stirring prose that reads like poetry and demands to be read slowly. In a distinct, perceptive, and vulnerable first-person narrative, Emoni, a young single mom being raised by her grandmother while raising her own daughter, relates the story of her last year of high school in vignettes and short chapters, trading off between sharing bits of the story and her musings about her life and her future. Emoni has a gift for cooking, and her food, like magic, conjures emotions in people she shares it with. Her teachers, friends, and family are all ready to support her when the subject of culinary arts schooling comes up, but the one Emoni needs to learn to trust is herself. Acevedo compassionately challenges her readers with a wide variety of topics, including cultural and personal identity and the needs and desires of older women, something that is so often forgotten. Fittingly, for a book so deeply about food, she also includes Emoni's recipes. This sophomore novel is simply stunning. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Acevedo's debut won a National Book Award and the Printz Award and her many fans will be salivating for this superb follow-up.--Kristina Pino Copyright 2019 Booklist


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

High school senior Emoni Santiago (an aspiring chef) and her two-year-old daughter live with Emoni's abuela. Emoni signs up for a culinary arts class that culminates in a trip to Spain--and she begins to see a path forward, if only she dares follow it. Acevedo creates beautifully realized characters with complex lives. A few recipes (such as "When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Verbena Tembleque") are interspersed. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

In this stunning sophomore novel from National Book Award and Printz winner Acevedo (The Poet X), Afro-Puerto Rican and African-American Emoni Santiago, a high school senior, lives in Philadelphia with her two-year-old daughter, Emma-nicknamed Babygirl-and paternal grandmother, 'Buela. A talented cook, Emoni balances school, work at a local burger joint, and motherhood-including shared custody with her ex-boyfriend, Tyrone-with moments in the kitchen, where her "magical hands" create dishes that allow the eater to access deep, surprising memories. But she's not sure what to do with her passion, or after high school, until enrolling in a culinary arts elective helps her to hone her innate cooking skills in the classroom and during a hard-won weeklong apprenticeship in Spain. As she gains practice at leadership and fund-raising, she also cautiously develops a budding relationship with new student Malachi, a boy who respects Emoni's boundaries. Acevedo expertly develops Emoni's close female relationships, which are often conveyed through the sharing of food and recipes, and which shape and buoy Emoni's sense of her own direction and strength. With evocative, rhythmic prose and realistically rendered relationships and tensions, Acevedo's unvarnished depiction of young adulthood is at once universal and intensely specific. Ages 13-up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Seventeen-year-old Afro-Boricua Emoni Santiago hones her gift for cooking and makes important decisions about her future.Emoni's 'Buela says she's had a gift for cooking since she was small. Now Emoni has her own toddler, Emma ("The kind of name that doesn't tell you too much before you meet her, the way mine does"), nicknamed Babygirl. Emoni's first day of senior year at her Philadelphia high school is also Babygirl's first day of day care, leaving Emoni saddened about missing parts of her life. Emoni's a classic example of the school system's failure to harness many students' creativity and interests, but thankfully she discovers and enrolls in a new class called "Culinary Arts: Spain Immersion." Though the teacher, Chef Ayden, respects her, he's strict, and Emoni nearly drops the class, but eventually she gathers the ingredientsconnections and skillsshe'll need for success. A romance that doesn't fit the usual mold and a class trip to Spain round out this flavorful tale. Emoni occasionally breaks from first-person narration to address readers directly, and her voice and story feel fresh and contemporary. Diversity in representation is primarily racial and ethnic; however, Emoni's best friend Angelica is a lesbian. The short, precise prose chapters will draw in even reluctant readers, and the inclusion of several recipes adds to the appeal. Current pop-culture references and cultural relevance will attract both window and mirror readers. Sabroso. (Fiction. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 9 Up-The acclaimed author follows up her celebrated The Poet X with a love letter to food and a tribute to young, single mothers. Emoni Santiago is an Afro-Latinx high school senior in Philly who dreams up the most delectable concoctions, always mixing up tastes from her two cultures with a spice of her own. The news of a culinary arts course with a possible trip to Spain grabs her interest, but how will she juggle school, work, and taking care of her daughter? The young woman is barely balancing everything on her plate with the help of her talented best friend Angelica, 'Buela (her intractable grandmother), and occasional visits from her activist father (who moved to Puerto Rico after her mother's death). Acevedo populates her first prose novel with complex and unforgettable characters and turns the stereotype of "teen mom" on its head. Emoni has to deal with daycare drop-offs, custody issues, and making ends meet alongside college applications, budding romances, and the high school rumor mill. Realistic dialogue and vulnerable interior monologues about sex, loss, and insecurities will ring true with all adolescents. The author expertly weaves Spanglish, toddler mom worries, and culinary lingo and aptly evokes the Philly and Spain settings, immersing readers in Emoni's world. The novel's three parts are introduced by recipes created and perfected by the protagonist, and hints of Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate will leave teens hungry for more. VERDICT Acevedo's second serving offers a much-needed nuanced exploration of teen parenting that belongs on all shelves.-Shelley M. Diaz, BookOps: The New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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