Review: With The Fire On High Shows Acevedo’s Talent For Creating Memorable Characters

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I love Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing, so when I saw this book on the library shelf I picked it up without even checking to see what it was about. The Poet X and Clap When You Land were both phenomenal books, so I did not expect anything less of With The Fire On High. I assumed that this book would be in verse because her poetry is exquisite, but instead it was in prose! Even though her words did not feel as powerful as in her poetry books, I still enjoyed this book.

In With The Fire On High, by Elizabeth Acevedo, a high school senior named Emoni Santiago with a passion for cooking and fierce love for her abuela, daughter, and friend; navigates her senior year and the future ahead of her. It is clear that Emoni is taking on a lot of responsibilities, but does the best she can to provide for her family and do well in school.

After Emoni got pregnant freshman year, her daughter’s needs now overpower her own dreams of attending culinary school. So, when an opportunity for a cooking class at her school opens up with the chance to fly to Spain, Emoni isn’t sure what to do. And, with college applications due soon and a cute boy who possibly could become a boyfriend, Emoni learns that she must make some tough decisions. But, she not only has to make these decisions for herself, but also for her daughter Emma and her abuela.

I liked the way the author described Emoni’s meals, and also left recepies for people who want to make them. Emoni was so enjoyable to read about, and her story was so beautifully written. There are a lot of things to take away from this book, but this quote is a good representation of what Emoni and readers will learn: “And sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can’t.”

When reading, I wondered if Acevedo was a chef herself because the way she described Emoni’s love for cooking seemed so real. I think many can relate to her passion for culinary arts. Not only does she have a talent for it, but she puts in effort and soul into her food, which is why they always come out great. In my own life, I feel the same about writing and music.

I recommend this book to people who don’t want to focus on a complicated plot, and instead see life through the lenses of a memorable character. Normally, I enjoy books that keep me on the edge of my seat with plot twists, but sometimes books like these can be just as interesting. Elizabeth Acevedo’s talent with creating characters so hard to hate is immaculate.

Three out of four roses!

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