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YA Review: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 386
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA (PA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 abula. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen. There, she lets her hands tell her what to cook, listening to her intuition and adding a little something magical every time, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she's always dreamed of working in a kitchen after she graduates, Emoni knows that it's not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she's made for her life--and everyone else's rules, which she refuses to play by--once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Review: I liked Poet X so immediately wanted to read this book without even knowing what it was about. Then I saw the cover and knew I wanted to read it. But guess what? It's about food. And life in a kitchen. So not who I am; I am not interested in food or cooking so I began this book with a bit of trepidation.

Emoni is such a strong character; I loved this about her. She is only 17 and has a 2 year old child yet she is competent, confident, loves her abuela and her best friend. She keeps herself focused on school, her home life, and cooking, knowing that if she get distracted it will all fall apart. 

The cast of characters that surround Emoni are also wonderful. They are interesting, charming, and, mostly, good natured. They feel real. And they show how important a support system is for any young person. We need family, friends, and teachers to be there for teens and to show them they are loved even when things aren't easy.

And the food? It fits the book and wasn't too much for me. It becomes part of Emoni and her experiences, and I can't imagine it being written any other way.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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