With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

If Clap When You Land is on backorder at your local bookstore, see if With the Fire on High is available. Honestly, it’s a great book to read regardless of Acevedo’s other accolades.

Side note: an easy book to read while miles deep in brain fog.

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.

Acevedo’s With the Fire on High is first and foremost a coming-of-age novel about a teenager who has had to be an adult far earlier than she should. But she’s as strong as the feelings she has to grapple with and dedicated to an extent that I wish I was when I was in high school. She knows what she wants and goes for it – a characteristic I think everyone can admire.

Of course, it’s easy to love a story with a relatable protagonist but Acevedo does an amazing job of crafting a character who doesn’t have to look, speak, live, or have grown up the same as readers to speak to them. While some plot points are a little outside the boundaries of belief, they’re not impossible to accept and don’t distract from the book’s message or conclusion.

The book is also peppered with Spanish phrases I haven’t heard in ages and a few recipes round out this uniquely beautiful and inspiring YA novel.

Photo and synopsis from Bookshop

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