Summary and book reviews of With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High

by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo X
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    May 2019, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Catherine M Andronik
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award 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.

Part One
The Sour


EMONI'S

"When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Verbena Tembleque"

RECIPE

Serves: Your heart when you are missing someone you love.


Ingredients:

Two cans of coconut milk
Handful of white sugar
Four shakes of cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Bunch of lemon verbena leaves
Bunch of vanilla beans
Cinnamon, enough to garnish

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, heat coconut milk until it comes to a boil. Muddle a bunch of lemon verbena leaves and vanilla beans and add to the heated coconut milk. Let steep.
2. After fifteen minutes, mix the infused coconut milk, salt, sugar, and cornstarch. Stir the mixture until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Let the combined ingredients come to a boil and keep stirring until the mixture begins getting pudding thick.
3. Pour into a big cereal bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for five hours.
4. After removing the mixture from the cereal bowl mold, sprinkle with cinnamon.
*Best eaten cold while daydreaming about palm ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Booktalk. Anyone who tastes Emoni's cooking calls it magic, and it just might be. However, the ingredients she has to work with are challenging: Emoni is a senior in high school with a two-year-old daughter, a part-time job, and no time for new friends or extracurricular activities like culinary class. She works hard to keep her head up and must make difficult decisions every day for her daughter and abuela. But there is a wild dream stirring inside her and the possibility of a lifetime in front of her. Will Emoni play it safe? Or will she take a leap of faith and make her dreams of becoming a professional chef come true?

Duende. Describe Emoni's relationship with cooking. In what ways is Emoni "full of duende. Of inspiration and passion"...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Teen parenthood is not a new subject in YA novels, but With the Fire on High offers a refreshing perspective. The author is as much a master of language as Emoni is a master of food. Acevedo has created a strong, creative, resourceful urban Latina whose story will resonate with both teen readers and adults...continued

Full Review (486 words).

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(Reviewed by Catherine M Andronik).

Media Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
With the Fire on High is a worthy follow-up to Acevedo’s nationally lauded debut. Emoni’s headstrong perseverance is inspiring. Acevedo’s clever imagery and explorations of language and culture make the journey not only beautiful, but thought-provoking.

New York Times
Acevedo has pulled off a kind of alchemy of emotions and magic reminiscent of Laura Esquivel’s “Like Water for Chocolate,” if that novel were set in current-day Philadelphia and remixed with references to Cardi B. and Rihanna...With its judicious depth and brilliant blazes of writing that simmer, then nourish, “With the Fire on High” is literary soul food.

Washington Post
Acevedo’s first novel, written in verse, centered on a teenage poet. Now, we have a teenage chef. A former eighth grade English teacher, Acevedo sees these young talents not as rarities. They are everywhere — and in Acevedo’s hands, their stories transcend what is expected of them.

Kirkus Reviews
Emoni occasionally breaks from first-person narration to address readers directly, and her voice and story feel fresh and contemporary...The short, precise prose chapters will draw in even reluctant readers, and the inclusion of several recipes adds to the appeal.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
With evocative, rhythmic prose and realistically rendered and tensions, Acevedo's unvarnished depiction of young adulthood is at once universal and intensely specific.

Booklist (starred review)
Acevedo has done it again: the multi-award-winning author of The Poet X (2018) here delivers perfection...This sophomore novel is simply stunning.

School Library Journal (starred review)
The acclaimed author follows up her celebrated The Poet X with a love letter to food and a tribute to young, single mothers...Acevedo's second serving offers a much-needed nuanced exploration of teen parenting that belongs on all shelves.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Effects of Teenage Pregnancy

In With the Fire on High, protagonist Emoni has a baby at the end of her freshman year of high school and makes some life-changing choices. Her strong support system, which not every teen mother has, gives Emoni an excellent chance at keeping both her life and the life of her daughter on a positive track.

With her mother dead and her father living in Puerto Rico, Emoni lives with her grandmother. Their living arrangement is not unusual; in the United States, approximately 2.6 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. With the birth of Emma, Emoni's grandmother also shares a significant responsibility for the care of her great-granddaughter.  With such strong family support and a good daycare program, ...

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