YA book review on With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
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.
My Thoughts after Reading
This YA book is about a teen mother and her journey back to school after giving birth.
Emoni is a gifted chef, but the path ahead is not clear and simple. She lives with her grandmother and has a young toddler. They eke out a living with her grandmother’s disability allowance and her part-time work at a local fast-food outlet. The father of her child has visitation rights once a fortnight. Her home-room teacher has fought hard for her to remain in main-stream education, so she can graduate at 18 with the rest of her cohort.
Through the amazing writing, we get to see what life is like for Emoni as she tries to juggle everything. On top of this, she has to think about her future, which is a difficult concept when day-to-day living is a struggle already. This book sends out a strong message of resilience. Whilst she has people rooting for her, she has to make the difficult decisions. There were some parts so well written I just had to go back and reread it again. I also enjoyed reading about the history, background and culture of Puerto Rico.
The ending sentence is brilliant. She talks about the dish flamble and faith : ‘what better way to take a leap of faith than to set something on fire and trust it will not only come out right, but that it will be completely delicious?’
Quite simply, an amazing read. 5/5