With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo Book Review



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.



From the first page I was sucked in by the main character, Emoni’s, way with food. This book is a love song to tastes and flavors in a way that will make you want to try new foods. Which is good because Emoni includes her recipes. The short chapters made the story quite easy to read, and each one felt like a little episode into Emoni’s life, giving us a glimpse into the different areas of her life. I thought the chapters resulted in a nice for the story and kept the pace moving at a steady speed.

Emoni Santiago is a young mother juggling school, work and taking care of her daughter.She is strong-willed girl with convictions and sass.She also lives with her grandmother.  She finds peace in the kitchen, whipping up l creations for her family and friends. The descriptions of food and cooking were delicious. There are even a few of Emoni’s recipes sprinkled throughout the book. 

Even though Emoni is in adult situations, her voice is true to her age, mature at times because of her life experience, immature at others because of her youth. She is always in character as a young girl and yet even if you aren’t a teen mom with a lot of life pressures and the specific problems and conflicts Emoni faces, you will find a lot to relate to in Imani’s coming of age story.

The family dynamic in this book is another aspect that I just love I really liked how her family was portrayed, and the role her friends played in her life. People are complicated, but they can always surprise you. It was also nice seeing teachers that really wanted to help their students succeed. She has a complicated relationship with her absent father. He lives in Puerto Rico and only makes phone calls to his daughter and visits even less in person. And though Emoni’s loving Abuela is a strong backbone, a guiding light of love, she appears to have a secret .I love seeing the relationship grow and face challenges that strain that family bond.

I recommend this book to high schoolers.  I give this book 5 stars.



ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is a New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Poet X, won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She is also the recipient of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award. Additionally, she was honored with the 2019 Pure Belpré Author Award for celebrating, affirming, and portraying Latinx culture and experience.  

Her books include, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes 2016), The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018), & With The Fire On High (HarperCollins, 2019).

She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.

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