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With the Fire on High

Written by: Elizabeth Acevedo
Narrated by: Elizabeth Acevedo
Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling 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 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. 

©2019 Elizabeth Acevedo (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

What the critics say

"Author Elizabeth Acevedo sounds natural and authentic as Emoni, an immensely likable Philadelphia high school senior with a 2-year-old daughter and a gift for cooking. In both her writing and her narration, Acevedo warmly depicts the loving and supportive people in Emoni's life.... This delicious feel-good story will have listeners rooting for Emoni as she figures out the next steps on her life path." (AudioFile Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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it was lyrical

that's what the words and the performance amount to. it was lyrical. Her tone and accent while she read this ....I could listen to Miss Acevedo read the dictionary and love it.
i haven't read any of her previous works, but her word choice and phrasing lets me know she's a poet...and a good one at that. Li⁰stening to her read her own words gave me poetry slam vibes even though there was not one traditional poem in the book.
Regardless to say I loved it

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  • Sekai
  • CONCORD, NC
  • 2019-05-09

I felt every word.

i loved how descriptive the author was & I really enjoyed how she put the recipes in the book also. I'd happily read another book by her.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Rashida Coley-Simmons
  • 2019-05-09

Inspiring

This book has become one of my favorites. The narration is beautifully done. I will recommend this book to any teen.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Shenelle Williams
  • clifton park, new york United States
  • 2019-05-13

poetry in prose

I loved this book. There were sections that made me smile, and parts that made me tear up. I truly cared about the characters and did not want the book to end.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Abel
  • 2019-08-03

Real book

Tells story about what is real in our teens.Our teens deal with this and don't know what to do withsex and life after children

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Audiobookhoe
  • 2019-05-16

Whole life is slayed...

So I've been a fan of this author since her debut. I've been vocal about my feelings about afro-latinx narratives being a buzzword for some, and while I've respected and enyoed many attempts to write a BLACK narrative of a latinx person, this book was why I think Black-Latinx narratives shine the most by Black-Latinx voices. It's not to say they're the only people capable of such narratives.

There are a half a dozen reads I can recommend that feature such, but there's a type of language I think non-black latinx and non-latinx black folx miss when it comes to this very specific demographic of Black folx. As an Afro-Latinx person, I've thought about giving up the term Afro-Latinx altogether. It's become so popular and inclusive, it's started to excluded the very people it was meant to include. Black people who of the African diaspora through our current country of origins being Latin American countries. Especially visibly Black, unable to pass for racially ambiguous.

The main character is light skinned. That I can't ignore as a Black-Cuban woman who is between coffee and chocolate with Western African features(I've been told I look Ghanaian!). But what I can say is, this is probably one of the three Afro-Latinx narratives I've related to the most.

Emoni is an Black-Latinx teen who is bi-cultural/multicultural but she has two Black parents. Her father, who's from Puerto Rico, is a dark skinned proud Black man, while her late mother is African-American who mirrored her appearance more than her #darkskinneddaddy (see what I just did there ;p Afro-latinas know). It's interesting how so many of the reviews have highlighted her being biracial or "mixed". In any other place in the world, two Black parents would mean Black. It's so frustrating explaining you can be Afro-Latinx and not be mixed racially. I've even struggled with co-workers about my identity. Mind you, these are people who see me 4-5 times a week. So many of them knowing I identify as Afro-Cubanx still view me as a mixed race person. I don't view my Blackness as any more mixed than an African-American person. She also didn't speak Spanish fluently, which a alot of us struggle with, and is often used against us to challenge our proximity and authenticity to the culture. No one but a Latinx person who also identifies as Black could've written this type of narrative.

Even though the author and her main character are both fair skinned, she understands the language behind being a Black-Latinx person. I feared like many of the books I've enjoyed over the years with Black Latinx narratives, that I'd feel like this was someone else's story. Still valid, but not my Afro-Latinx experience. It's still not my exact experience, but it's certainly the Black-Latinx narrative I've deserved my entire life.

She gets the "What are you?" conversation a lot, and she answered the way I might in the same situation. I understand that this narrative isn't shown very often. So many still can't fathom that a Black person can also be Latinx. Sometimes it's bicultural like Emoni. Sometimes it's biracial(one non-black latinx parent, a black parent of any origin). Sometimes it's like me, a Black person with two BLACK ass parents, who just happen to both have Cuban origin based on their ancestors location in Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.

I get so tired of explaining to folx(even my fellow African diaspora brethen) that there isn't just one Black experience. My Black experience is just as common as an African-American, a Nigerian-American or a Grenadian-American narrative. I'm so glad a book like this is normalizing it, and I beg any readers who don't normally read YA to read this book.

I'll admit, Emoni(the main character) being a 17-yr old mother of a 3-yr old was uncomfortable. But only because you're often still a child that young. But it's a true experience. My cousin was 15 by the time she'd given birth to both of her now grown children. It felt so long ago, but felt normal at that time, and she'd had a really hard life, and so little people giving her guidance. Not to mention the lack of sexual education. Looking back now, she was a baby. She was 2.5 years older than me, so it made sense at the time. But she was taken advantage of and seeing her upbringing, I'm not really surprised by it.

She's had to juggle motherhood, school, and working part-time, which was/is true for so many young underprivileged teens of color. I think it's uncomfortable and feels unrealistic to a non-PoC because they're not policed as often as us, or have access to things we often don't. Emoni is just juggling because she doesn't know another way, and she's mature but still realistically 17. She has no choice. This is a reality for so many I've seen over the course of my life. It's uncomfortable, but I think we need to be uncomfortable sometimes.

There's a lot of things as a single mother she went through that A LOT of things single moms go through. I'm not one, but I'm the product of one. It's hard to have agency when all the responsibility is on the mother. The father of her child was a good father in her eyes, but he wasn't expected to pull the same weight, while also judging her for being interested in dating(meaning he didn't want her to date, even her abuela was uncomfortable with the idea) even though he dated whenever he wanted, and wasn't expected to answer to her in the same situations. I can't imagine feeling like a moment you had at 14 resulted in this situation and everyone making you feel like your life is over.

Emoni still had all this life to live, but she coudln't be selfish at the same time, which y'all all remember what y'all were like at 17. She reminds me of so many people I've known, are related to, or just how we see Black teenage moms. Like their a burden, or a stain, and not children themselves who are trying to understand life and grow up at the same time.

I haven't even mentioned that she's aspiring to be a chef. That's the major premise of the book. The delicious food that comes from her heart she often has to change for her culinary arts class. She's trying to meet standards that go against how she learned how to cook, while not losing herself or her process.

And she likes a dude that's perfect for her, who didn't shame her for a past so many would normally shame her for. Being a Black body in any context is difficult, but when you're a woman/girl/femme presenting, it's even harder. People assume you're "fast" or uneducated, or arrogant for having confidence. It's like you can't even breath without being judged in a more judgemental light, and some people are not afraid to remind you how uncomfortable they are with your existence.

This book brought out so much emotions, and I don't normally write reviews this long, but there are so few Afro-Latinx narratives that I love, that also celebrate being Black. I don't know how you can be Afro-Latinx and not identify as Black, and that's also why I often struggle with narratives written by non-Black latinx or non-latinx Black folx.

There's queer rep(her best friend is a lesbian and it's handled respectfully) and a lot of other great things about it, but as a Black Cubanx woman who's waited her whole life for books like this, I'm so glad the new generation will just have them flat out. I'm so glad for the author's success and I hope she keeps it up, because I'll keep reading if she does. This may just be the highlight of 2019 for me.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-09-20

Loved it.

What a great story and so relatable. I really W
hope it’s a part 2. I would love to see how Imani cooking career develops.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-09-19

Loved it

It was a beautiful story. I loved everything about it and I am looking forward to listen to more of her books

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  • D. Levroney
  • Maryland
  • 2019-09-16

Such an easy book to love!

I most definitely will be buying the book. This will be a reread for me

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  • Quiana
  • 2019-09-12

This book takes me back

I am never one for long reviews but coming from a former Philadelphia School District Culinary Arts students this book hit home. She tells a story that is reflects my life. I have listened to this book over and over because it reminds me of the days I attended Bok Tech and struggled to figure out what would be next in my life. Funny thing is I applied to the same Drexel Program she mentioned in her book. 😊

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  • Danielle Johnson
  • 2019-09-09

Fuego

What I loved most was the celebration of Afro-Latino culture within American society. I enjoyed the journey of a young teenage mother who was surrounded by support and did not succumb to the stereotype. As a mother myself, I found her story relatable and inspiring.

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  • Consommatrice
  • 2019-08-02

Exceptionnal

This book was amazing. Acevedo always paints characters and setting in the most vivid ways. It's simply outstanding. I cannot wait to read her next book because after this one and Poet X, she's one of my favorite authors.