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With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Where did I get it? My BFF Sam bought it for me for Christmas, she said to let her know if there was anything particular I wanted and I said this. 

What's it about? Emoni is seventeen and in her last year of high school in Philadelphia. She has a lot going on in her life. She had a baby, Emma, better known as Babygirl, when she was fifteen. She lives with her grandmother, 'Buela (short for abuela, meaning grandma), as her mum died when she was born, and her dad, Julio, lives in Puerto Rico where he grew up. Babygirl has to start daycare because 'Buela wants to look after her less (which she's entitled to do!), at the same time that Emoni starts her senior year.

Emoni doesn't really trust boys since what happened with Babygirl's dad, Tyrone. So when there's a new boy at school, Malachi, she tries to keep him at arm's length. She tells him they're not even friends. She has enough going on in her life.

Emoni loves to cook. She was taught by 'Buela but she also has magic in her hands and cooks amazing dishes, especially dishes that remind 'Buela of living on the island. So when there's a new cooking elective at school, she really wants to do it. It also includes a trip to Spain, meaning Emoni will need to fundraise hard to have enough money to go. 

She starts the class - which Malachi is also in - and soon comes up against Chef Ayden because she keeps putting her own spin on dishes instead of following the instructions. Plus 'Buela is keeping her own secrets, and Emoni is trying to just make it through. 

The book encompasses an awful lot of time in Emoni's senior year, and a LOT happens. There's loads of lovely things, some difficult things, some heartbreaking things. I LOVED the book. I loved Emoni, I loved everything she had been through with her pregnancy, I loved how she dealt with Babygirl and Tyrone. I loved her BFF Angelica, who is gay and dating a girl called Laura (Emoni cooks for them!). I loved the school setting. I loved Malachi, who was just gorgeous. I loved 'Buela and everything she did for Emoni and Babygirl and also all the cooking the two women shared. I liked The Poet X, but I LOVED this. It was, for me, close to a perfect book. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, Angelica is, I guess she's not a main focus of the book but I liked how she was just there. She's a fabulous friend. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yep! Nearly everyone! Emoni talks a lot about being Afro-Puerto Rican and what that means to her. Malachi is very dark skinned and asks Emoni about her ethnicity, which I really liked as a conversation. There's a lot about Puerto Rico that I didn't know, so I really enjoyed that. It's fab. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, there's quite a bit and I would say it is quite explicit

Are drugs mentioned or used? I think there might be a mention but that's it. 

Is there any talk of death? A little bit. Emoni's mother died in childbirth with her and this is described a little. 

Are there swear words? Yep. 

What criticisms do I have? Gosh almost none. There were a couple of times where I felt time skipped oddly, but I understood by the end that there was just so much to fit in, so it made sense. But it was a little jarring at times. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. Acevedo is an author to definitely keep an eye on. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I'm still trying to read all my Christmas books straight away, and I actually finished this in the middle of January but have spaced my blog posts to now. 

What do I think of the cover? I love it! It's Emoni with her hair up ready to cook. 

What other books is it like? It's like The Poet X, but it's also like Belly Up by Eva Darrows which I also really liked. 

How many stars? Five out of five. Like I said, it's almost perfect. 

Where is the book going now? I will most definitely keep it!

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