With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
What follows is my terrible, awful, no good review because 1) I have no words to describe this amazing book and 2) Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is like Emoni’s cooking: brilliant and beyond words.
Emoni Santiago has a lot on her plate—juggling school, a part time job at the Burger Joint, and a toddler. But she has a passion for cooking and a dream, and she’s not going to let anything stop her.
This is fucking amazing.
I think Elizabeth Acevedo is now one of my auto-buy (or auto request from the library) authors. I was late on the game in reading The Poet X, but that was amazing.
With the Fire on High is a completely different novel, and so, so good.
I have no words, beyond that Emoni is amazing and she had fantastic teachers, friends and abuela supporting her along the way.
It’s less an issues novel and more a slice of life story as one girl navigates her massive responsibilities and tries to do what she loves most. There’s a bit of magical realism à la Like Water for Chocolate, but it’s very light. Emoni does a little growing up, but mostly this is about her gaining the confidence to pursue her dreams and find her own course in life—she’s already done more growing up than most teenagers.
A lot of things are touched upon, like poverty, gentrification, colonization, history and climate change, but mostly it’s about confidence, passion and family. Particularly that family is both blood and those who have your back no matter what.
Read it read it read it.