Blog Tour | With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo (Review)

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“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.”


Thank you so much, Karina (Afire Pages) for hosting this tour and HarperCollins International providing an ARC for my honest review.

  • ISBN: 0062662856
  • Title: With the Fire on High
  • Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Release Date: May 7th 2019
  • No. of Pages: 400
  • Genre: YA Contemporary

My Review 

Rating: ★★★★

I actually had the wonderful opportunity to be on the blog tour for the author’s debut, The Poet X, last year. So OF COURSE when I heard there was a tour for her sophomore novel I jumped at the chance. While The Poet X is told in verse, her new novel is in prose. Elizabeth Acevedo is such a talented writer and so I had to read With the Fire on High. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed one bit.

Allow me to quickly tell you about me and why I was looking forward to this book. I’m Black and my roots are from the Caribbean. My dad is from Jamaica and my mom is from an island called Antigua. I was raised on the BEST food if I don’t say so myself. Curry chicken, rice and peas, plantain, mango, and beef patties were a staple part of my diet. I jumped at the chance to be apart of this blog tour because it’s rare that I read about characters who like to cook. Just the other month I got to read about Laila, an Indian character who bakes in The Gilded Wolves. Books with food references just makes everything better.

EMONI SANTIAGO

With the Fire on High follows a girl named Emoni, who is a single teen parent living with her abuela. She’s juggling motherhood, school, a part-time job, and her budding love life. She has big dreams of running her own restaurent someday, so when the opportunity opens up to take a culinary class she takes it. The class comes with a trip to Spain—a chance of a life time.

Obviously, culture plays a significant role our protagonist’s life. Emoni is half-Black and half Afro-Puerto Rican. People are constantly questioning her about her heritage. When she comes across Latin Americans, they tell her she isn’t Latina enough. When she comes across other Black people, they tell her she isn’t really Black. For instance, when Malachai first meets Emoni, they have this exchange:

“I didn’t think you were Black-black.”

“Any why, Malachi, did you think that I was ‘Black-black’?”

Well, your last name is Santiago, you’re light-skinned, and your hair’s wild curly. I assumed you were Spanish.”

What I like about Emoni is how she refuses to bow to other people’s ignorance about her background and takes pride in who she is. I love that Elizabeth Acevedo writes headstrong women with big hearts.

“I don’t reduce, homies. The whole of me is Black. The whole of me is whole.”

One of the biggest things I enjoyed about this book (besides Emoni as a character) is the writing. Acevedo’s prose just flows so well. I read through the first 100 pages in a day. I enjoy Emoni’s voice. You can she’s a passionate person and takes her responsibilities as a young mom very seriously. Emoni’s assertive side likes to come out in the kitchen because she’s very self-assured when it comes to cooking, but her pride gets her in trouble with her teacher sometimes.

FAMILY FIRST

With the Fire on High has a great emphasis on friends and family that is believable and easy to relate to. Her mother died shortly after she was born and her father, Julio, is more or less a no show. She lives up North in Philly, but she has family on her mother’s side in Raleigh, NC (MY HOME STATE). Fortunately, Emoni’s baby’s father, Tyrone, is in their life to help out on weekends, but she still deals with occasional drama and pettiness from his family. And finally, her relationship with her abuela is super special. There’s some strain on their relationship since Emoni’s abuela doesn’t have much money yet has three mouths to feed.

“People say that you’re stick with the family you’re born into. And for most people, that’s probably true. But we all make choices about people. Who we want to hold close, who we want to remain in our lives, and who we are just fine without.”

THE BOY + HER BEST FRIEND

When Malachai is the new kid in school, Emoni doesn’t trust him at first after her experience with Tyrone but they slowly develop a friendship and later a relationship. Emoni constantly pushes him away because she doesn’t want to get hurt but she also doesn’t want to upset the routine of her child’s life by letting a guy in who isn’t her father. Angelica, who is gay, is her best friend and supportive of Emoni. I love their strong female friendship because it’s based on genuine love for one another and it’s mutual love.

“I learned a lot about what it meant to be a fierce friend; to protect someone and learn more about what is what like to walk in their shoes.”

LIFE BEFORE GRADUATION

After the trip to Spain Emoni worked so hard to fundraise, the rest of the story moves in fast-forward. Emoni is waiting for answers for her college application. Tyrone offers Emoni a proposition related to their daughter. Prom is around the corner and Emoni is faced with the big decision: pay for and go to college or work at home at a job to support her child. Aside from being a teen mother who faces stigma of her age and has to make choices that factors in her child, Emoni is a pretty normal teenager.

“I try to tell myself the same thing; forward is the only direction to go in, turning back around is for the birds.”

I only took a star off because the plot is fairly low-stakes, which is to be expected for a YA Contemporary. Otherwise, I really can’t think of anything negative to say. The characters gave me warm fuzzies, the story was straight-forward, and I was rooting for Emoni the whole time. I’m happy that I had the chance to read yet another Elizabeth Acevedo novel. With the Fire on High brings together all the right ingredients—a young mom with big dreams, mixed heritage representation, and colorful prose—to make you as the reader asking for seconds by the end.

Perfect for fans of Pride by Ibi Zoboi or On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Purchase links: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Author

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ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She has two collections of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and winner of the 2016 Berkshire Prize, Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm (Tupelo Press, forthcoming). The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.

Find the author on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Tour Schedule:

1 st week
April 22 – Afire Pages | Welcome Post & BTS Look on the Cover
Design Process
April 23 – Reading Peaches
April 24 – Shut Up, Shealea | Printable wallpapers/ bookmarks
April 25 – A Book Devourer | “The Life of Emoni; A Comparison”
April 26 – Bookish Wanderess
April 27 – Flipping Through the Pages
April 28 –Utopia State of Mind

2nd week

April 29 – For the Love of Diversity in Books | Aesthetics + Quote
Graphics
April 30 – The Royal Polar Bear Reads | Instagram Photos
May 1 – Endless Chapters | Recipe
May 2 – The Ultimate Fangirl
May 3 – The Wolf & Books
May 4 – Book Lover’s Book Reviews
May 5 – Weekend Reader | Cover Inspired Hairstyle

3rd week

May 6 – The Writer and The Story| Favorite Quotes
May 7 –Themollyweather
May 8 – All Things Gene
May 9 – Darque Dreamer Reads
May 10 – Your Tita Kate
May 11 – Afergtale| “Stories Our Abuelas Wouldn’t Tell Today”
May 12 – F A N N A

Giveaway

Yes, you’ve read it right! This blog tour has giveawayS not just a giveaway. Enter below to enter and win a book or a shirt of With the Fire on High! You can enter not just on either but on BOTH giveaways. The giveaways are open internationally until May 22nd.

1. ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH: HERE

2. ENTER TO WIN A WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH SHIRT: HERE

Shirt design by Melissa Chan, read more about her designs here .

3 Replies to “Blog Tour | With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo (Review)”

  1. This book sounds so heartwarming and lovely! I love that food seems to be such a central theme, since who doesn’t love reading about food?? And Emoni seems like such a great character 😀 I can tell how passionate you are about this book – wonderful review!

    Like

  2. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and I’m really looking forward to read this! It seems like filled with amazing relationships and characters ❤ This is a really wonderful review, I can see how much you enjoyed this book and your passion 🙂

    Like

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