With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Emoni has a deep love of cooking. She’s extraordinarily talented in the kitchen and has dreamed of being a chef since she was a child. When a culinary arts course is offered at her school, she is, naturally, excited and it should be a no-brainer that she would sign up. She’s just not sure she can make it happen. With the help of her Abuela (grandmother), Emoni is finishing high school while caring for her infant daughter; money is tight and a course that includes a trip to Spain might be a dream too big to manage.
Emoni is mature and hardworking, balancing school, childcare, work and navigating family dynamics. It’s rare to see a book about teen motherhood, rather than teen pregnancy, especially one that never feels like a cautionary tale. Emoni’s life isn’t easy but it’s certainly joyful. Emoni is a proud young woman and her story is hopeful.
Sections of the book are introduced with gorgeous recipes that reflect Emoni’s Puerto Rican and African American roots, and the novel is a celebration of a rich food heritage, of family and community. The recipe directions include such gems as ‘keep on the stove for the duration of three listens to a Cardi B song’. It’s a perfect choice for readers who have loved Angie Thomas’s books. Elizabeth Acevedo is the author of the widely celebrated National Book Award winner The Poet X and she has followed it up with a stunning young adult novel of the highest quality. For ages 13+.