With the Fire on High
With the Fire on High
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Annotation: Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, teen mom Emoni knows it's not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the "rules," once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
Catalog Number: #6586679
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 389 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-06-266283-X
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-266283-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018962097
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Afro-Boricua Emoni Santiago hones her gift for cooking and makes important decisions about her future.Emoni's 'Buela says she's had a gift for cooking since she was small. Now Emoni has her own toddler, Emma ("The kind of name that doesn't tell you too much before you meet her, the way mine does"), nicknamed Babygirl. Emoni's first day of senior year at her Philadelphia high school is also Babygirl's first day of day care, leaving Emoni saddened about missing parts of her life. Emoni's a classic example of the school system's failure to harness many students' creativity and interests, but thankfully she discovers and enrolls in a new class called "Culinary Arts: Spain Immersion." Though the teacher, Chef Ayden, respects her, he's strict, and Emoni nearly drops the class, but eventually she gathers the ingredients—connections and skills—she'll need for success. A romance that doesn't fit the usual mold and a class trip to Spain round out this flavorful tale. Emoni occasionally breaks from first-person narration to address readers directly, and her voice and story feel fresh and contemporary. Diversity in representation is primarily racial and ethnic; however, Emoni's best friend Angelica is a lesbian. The short, precise prose chapters will draw in even reluctant readers, and the inclusion of several recipes adds to the appeal. Current pop-culture references and cultural relevance will attract both window and mirror readers. Sabroso. (Fiction. 14-adult)
Publishers Weekly
In this stunning sophomore novel from National Book Award and Printz winner Acevedo (The Poet X), Afro-Puerto Rican and African-American Emoni Santiago, a high school senior, lives in Philadelphia with her two-year-old daughter, Emma-nicknamed Babygirl-and paternal grandmother, -Buela. A talented cook, Emoni balances school, work at a local burger joint, and motherhood-including shared custody with her ex-boyfriend, Tyrone-with moments in the kitchen, where her -magical hands- create dishes that allow the eater to access deep, surprising memories. But she-s not sure what to do with her passion, or after high school, until enrolling in a culinary arts elective helps her to hone her innate cooking skills in the classroom and during a hard-won weeklong apprenticeship in Spain. As she gains practice at leadership and fund-raising, she also cautiously develops a budding relationship with new student Malachi, a boy who respects Emoni-s boundaries. Acevedo expertly develops Emoni-s close female relationships, which are often conveyed through the sharing of food and recipes, and which shape and buoy Emoni-s sense of her own direction and strength. With evocative, rhythmic prose and realistically rendered relationships and tensions, Acevedo-s unvarnished depiction of young adulthood is at once universal and intensely specific. Ages 13-up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 9 Up The acclaimed author follows up her celebrated The Poet X with a love letter to food and a tribute to young, single mothers. Emoni Santiago is an Afro-Latinx high school senior in Philly who dreams up the most delectable concoctions, always mixing up tastes from her two cultures with a spice of her own. The news of a culinary arts course with a possible trip to Spain grabs her interest, but how will she juggle school, work, and taking care of her daughter? The young woman is barely balancing everything on her plate with the help of her talented best friend Angelica, 'Buela (her intractable grandmother), and occasional visits from her activist father (who moved to Puerto Rico after her mother's death). Acevedo populates her first prose novel with complex and unforgettable characters and turns the stereotype of "teen mom" on its head. Emoni has to deal with daycare drop-offs, custody issues, and making ends meet alongside college applications, budding romances, and the high school rumor mill. Realistic dialogue and vulnerable interior monologues about sex, loss, and insecurities will ring true with all adolescents. The author expertly weaves Spanglish, toddler mom worries, and culinary lingo and aptly evokes the Philly and Spain settings, immersing readers in Emoni's world. The novel's three parts are introduced by recipes created and perfected by the protagonist, and hints of Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate will leave teens hungry for more. VERDICT Acevedo's second serving offers a much-needed nuanced exploration of teen parenting that belongs on all shelves. Shelley M. Diaz, BookOps: The New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Acevedo has done it again: the multi-award-winning author of The Poet X (2018) here delivers perfection, from the cover art featuring a young Afro-Latina woman looking out, her curls picked up in a scarf, and kitchen staples framing her face, to Acevedo's keen, stirring prose that reads like poetry and demands to be read slowly. In a distinct, perceptive, and vulnerable first-person narrative, Emoni, a young single mom being raised by her grandmother while raising her own daughter, relates the story of her last year of high school in vignettes and short chapters, trading off between sharing bits of the story and her musings about her life and her future. Emoni has a gift for cooking, and her food, like magic, conjures emotions in people she shares it with. Her teachers, friends, and family are all ready to support her when the subject of culinary arts schooling comes up, but the one Emoni needs to learn to trust is herself. Acevedo compassionately challenges her readers with a wide variety of topics, including cultural and personal identity and the needs and desires of older women, something that is so often forgotten. Fittingly, for a book so deeply about food, she also includes Emoni's recipes. This sophomore novel is simply stunning. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Acevedo's debut won a National Book Award and the Printz Award and her many fans will be salivating for this superb follow-up.
Word Count: 73,941
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 11.0 / quiz: 502468 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.3 / points:18.0 / quiz:Q76826
Guided Reading Level: V

From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist 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.


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