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Review: With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High

“And I know I should love the freedom, but I don’t think I’m ready for all the safety nets to be cut loose. Doesn’t ‘Buela know I still need her? That I wish someone would look at the pieces of my life and tell me how to make sure they all fit back together?”

What a heartwarming story! I didn’t know what to expect with this one because I saw it said “for fans of Gilmore Girls” and immediately bought it, enough said. (A bit of a cover buy too, tbh).

But this is such a heartfelt contemporary. It is mixture of family, growing up, being a grown up, being an individual, being a parent with heaps and heaps of cooking, love, and grit.

It is this grit that really gives this contemporary a strong backbone.

And yes, it has some comparison to Gilmore Girls … kind of.

Emoni Santiago got pregnant at 14 years old. Ever since, her life has been full of difficult decisions, hurdling obstacles, and sacrifice. Her cooking is her passion. Her outlet, her salvation and her magic.

Her dream is to work in a kitchen after graduation and the new culinary arts class at her school prompts her forward. Here, she butts heads with her Chef teacher, who expands her mind, her talents and ultimately her world.

This is an incredibly fast paced book, eat it up in one sitting kind of fast. Emoni is so very likeable, her story so compulsively readable and, at times, relatable. She struggles to find a balance between her obligations as a mother and her obligations to her self/dreams. She has a conflicted relationship with her father and a painful past … her decisions are never easy. But she has love, she has her Abuela, she has her best friend, and she adores her daughter.

Elizabeth Acevedo explores race, heritage, and sense of place/home. She expands our preconceived opinions on the definition of ghettos, provides suggestions/insight on how we could improve them rather than abandon them.

You’ll root for Emoni the whole way as she learns to let go, let people in, stick to her convictions and find her individual way. Truly an entertaining, feel good story, with so much depth. And a lot of great cooking along the way (read: don’t read while hungry)!


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