Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevado
Genre: Contemporary, Slice of Life
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This novel just became my Book of the Year. I haven’t loved a book like this in so long. Emoni Santiago is a strong half-black, half-Puerto Rican single mother who is doing everything she can for herself and her Babygirl. This includes caring for her Babygirl, helping her ’Buela(grandmother), working part-time, oh, and finishing high school. Emoni has her hands full but she is not going to let that get in the way of her dreams of being able to cook what she loves.
My one oh no is having a language but not having any translations in the book. Whether following it with a small translation in text or simply a breakdown/dictionary in the back will help others not only learn new words and sayings in another language but it will save readers time while they go get distracted by our phones while looking up the definitions. But I do love the use of the language as these bilingual sentences are very comfortable for people to understand if they are barely conversational in Spanish.
I love this so much! A black Latina is a representation I am so excited to see! There are plenty in my family that need this representation. Our main character is a black Puerto Rican and this is such a great combination that doesn’t get the attention it needs.
I love the relationship between our mama and her Babygirl! How freaking adorable are these two I could not put this book down because of them. The dynamic between mother and daughter was not lost in the plot of this story. I felt every piece fit to a puzzle and Babygirl just worked her way right in.
This book is extraordinarily realistic and relatable. I also had a cooking class in high school so this was a familiar concept for me. The cooking shows and love for cooking was very reminiscent to me as well, before I found out I had zero cooking talent lol. One quote that really stood out for the realistic feel for me was:
“I turn on the small lamp, quickly throw on sweats and a T-short, and pull off my bra through my sleeve.”
That’s what I do! Emoni was such a relatable character and her frustrations are so powerful that I hope she becomes a role model for others. To show them that no matter what life throws at you, you can find the strength and happiness to continue.
Emoni Santiago is a character unlike any other. You will fall in love with her as she finds her way to her dream with the love of her life at her side– her little Babygirl.
My similar recommendation for this novel would be Pride by Ibi Zoboi.
“Be good and safe, and oh, Emoni, trust. Okay? Trust.”
“Oh, yup, that’s at the top of Laura’s to-do list, get me pregnant.”
-Pg. 231; Context: They’re gay
Please tune in for my next post here TOMORROW! We will be opening the Once upon a Book Club box based on WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH.