With the Fire on High follows Emoni Santiago, a high schooler with great talent when it comes to the culinary arts. While she's incredibly intuitive when it comes to spice pairings, she and her abuela are struggling to take care of her young daughter. Emoni's positive attitude is frequently tested by elitist cooking teachers, high school bullies, and socioeconomic struggles related to race. This book, while it does have a romantic subplot, is first and foremost a story about Emoni and how she balances every part of her life, while still trying to take the time to be a teenager. The descriptions of the food she prepares are magnificent, and the feelings conveyed by Acevedo's writing are universally felt.— Kiran
“The only word I can use to properly describe this book is ‘delicious.’ I first fell in love with Acevedo’s poetry in The Poet X, and now I’m even more in love with her prose in With the Fire on High. This gorgeously relatable story of a teen mom who dreams of life as a chef will rip your heart out, season it, fry it up, and serve it back to you in the tastiest of ways. My only warning is this: Do not read it while hungry.”
— Emelie Burl, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT
From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning 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.
Elizabeth Acevedo is the author of The Poet X—which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the Walter Award—as well as With the Fire on High and Clap When You Land. She is a National Poetry Slam champion and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo lives with her partner in Washington, DC. You can find out more about her at www.acevedowrites.com.