PLOT: 3/5
GENRE: Contemporary Young Adult 

” Food is meant to feed more than an empty belly. It’s also meant to nourish your heart.”

– Elizabeth Acevedo, With the Fire on High

The plot

Emoni Santiago’s life has been anything but easy. A high school senior now, her struggles seem to never end. Getting pregnant in high school, raising a daughter with her grandma’s help, and juggling school and work have pushed her ambitions into the backseat. But no matter how tough the going gets, she knows that what needs to be done needs to be done.

The only place where Emoni feels free is her kitchen. It is where her heart sings and it is where the magic happens. Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything. She pours her heart into everything she cooks and her food satisfies the soul of whoever eats it.

Caught up in the present circumstances, pursuing her heart’s desire seems next to impossible. For starters, she is hard-pressed for time for her school’s new culinary art class, and if somehow that works out, there is no way she can afford the class trip to Spain. Maybe it is high time that she put her unrealistic dreams to rest. Or maybe not.

An opportunity is knocking at her door, and she has to gather the courage to fight for her dreams, set the fire on high, and start cooking.


Elizabeth Acevedo deals with the themes of teenage pregnancy and what it means to be a young mom. Emoni exploring her black – Puerto Rican ancestry and dealing with the loss of her mom, and the absence of her dad in life is also the focus of Acevedo’s writing.

My Thoughts

Emoni’s food is a conglomeration of her personality, her heritage, and her emotions for her loved ones. She is passionate, driven, headstrong, brave, and just like every other teenager – a tad bit annoying. But you cannot stop yourself from admiring her.

Accepting the responsibility of raising a daughter and giving her the best opportunities is her priority now. And it is this love – Emoni’s love for her daughter that made me feel so warm and fuzzy.

Talking about the characters-:

  • Grandma is Emoni’s pillar of strength. Life would have been so difficult for the baby girl as well as Emoni had Grandma not been staying with them. 
  • Angelica and her unwavering support for Emoni are simply precious. 
  • Chef Ayden’s contribution cannot be undermined. His guidance shapes Emoni’s personality.
  • Tyrone, Emoni’s ex is a pathetic guy. Period.
  • Malachi is an adorable guy, always kind and caring toward everybody. I loved his presence, however, his being the obvious ‘’love interest’’ did not add anything to the plot.

With Fire on High is a read filled with food and emotions.

As someone who loves to cook, it was such a treat to read this book. Descriptions of all the scrumptious dishes made my mouth water every single time. Reading about a YA character who is passionate about a career in the culinary arts felt like a breath of fresh air, so different from the usual stuff that is often found in most other books.

This is the kind of stuff that inspires you to go chase your own dreams.

In the end, With the Fire on High is a book that is going to leave you with a full heart and a craving tummy. Keeping snacks nearby might come in handy.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of With the Fire on High using the link below.

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