We knew before we even saw the finished product of her debut The Poet X that Elizabeth Acevedo was going to be a writer to watch. And after we heard her read the audiobook of Ibi Zoboi’s Pride, we were sold. This author spins magical, poetic language that captures huge feelings in precise words and phrases. Acevedo re-ignited a slam poetry obsession within us from book one, and from book two she has ignited an all-out obsession with everything she writes (and the quest for Emoni’s perfect, mouth-watering food!)
Although it’s contemporary, there ARE hints of magic in Acevedo’s latest book, With The Fire On High, which in our opinion makes it even sweeter. Everything Emoni cooks just so happens to provide the lucky person on the receiving end with a memory they haven’t thought of in a long time, and can we just say, that sounds pretty magical!
Liz’s writing has influenced a new generation of readers. She has proven that girls everywhere have voices and stories that deserve to be seen and heard. Girls who are fierce and have had to grow up fast and are here, now, and ready for their stories to come forth from their own mouths.
With The Fire On High is no exception. Although written in prose, it reads just as poetically as The Poet X did in verse. Each phrase is imbued with meaning, chosen with care, rendered beautiful. Lush descriptions of food and baking will make you hungry (i.e. definitely make sure to read this book with one hand and a snack or two in the other!); complex emotions are smoothed out in writing that is at once complex, flowing, and brand new. One thing’s for sure: we’ll read anything Elizabeth Acevedo ever writes, and we are here any story she’s ready to tell.
And hello, this cover has us SCREAMING. As Liz herself says,
Morenitas on covers all day, every day. Head scarfs. Fros. Not smiling, not here to play games. But magical. But magic. Sweet like vanilla, like hummingbirds, like all the glow they hold. May the artwork be like the girls: lavender-scented. Living love. Soft, but machete sharp. https://t.co/BRDkDNTVgI
— Elizabeth Acevedo (@AcevedoWrites) September 26, 2018
Scroll down to see even more reasons why With The Fire on High has us bursting with flames of love!
Reasons why we love ‘With The Fire On High’
It’s a story about a teen mom, but that’s not the only story
Emoni got pregnant, had a baby, and lived to tell the tale. She has learned a whole lot about life in a short amount of time, but she doesn’t live her life thinking about the past. Instead she chooses to focus on the present and future and think of how to make both the best they can be. Emoni’s identity as a mother is one of the most important ones of her life, but it’s not her only identity. Just like ‘Buela is not just Emoni’s grandmother, Emoni is Emma’s mother, and also her own person. This beautiful message is subtle, but so strong and important.
A great message of surrounding yourself with the people and things that mean the most to you
At the end of the day, isn’t this what we all want? To be around the people we love most, who love us, doing the things we’re passionate about? In Emoni’s case, it’s being around her daughter, her abuela, and her best friends, all while cooking something delicious, that makes life worthwhile. Emoni’s got her priorities set straight and is very mature while also being smart, thoughtful, and with a glowing sense of humor.
Food = magic = we are here for it
We LOVE the trope of food that’s made with so much love, it’s imbued with magic (i.e. Like Water For Chocolate, Chocolat, Love Sugar Magic.) Here we have a YA version of the magic-food story. Emoni is such a passionate person, and her emotions can’t help but seep into her culinary creations. It’s not explicitly explained why Emoni’s food brings out long-lost memories in the people she feeds, but this amplifies our own imaginations even more, and we love salivating over all the magical possibilities!
Lyrical, poetic language even in prose
We can’t express this enough—Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is the true magic in any of her work. Her prose soars and at each chapter’s end, we’re eager to turn another page to find out what happens to these lovable characters next! At the same time, we want to stretch our time out for as long as possible and make this book last, because the experience of reading Liz’s words is something we want to stay in for as long as we can.
It’s hard to find the perfect romance, but this is pretty close
This romance was one of our faves in contemporary history! It’s slow-burn, it’s supportive, it’s fun-filled and true. Most importantly, these two characters have profound respect for one another in everything they do, whether it’s friendship or more. To love someone is to love them for who they are and not for what they give to you, and Emoni and Malachi turn us into giant mushy piles of heart-eye emojis.
About With the Fire on High
From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.
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.
Are you bursting with excitement for With The Fire On High like we are? Tell us all your thoughts in the comments below!