Book Review: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I think one of the greatest feelings a blogger can have is unexpectedly falling in love with a good book, and With the Fire on High did exactly that by falling into my lap like a happy surprise. 🔥🍴 I wasn’t originally planning on reading this book, but after reading Shealea’s touching review and hearing Fadwa rave about it on Twitter, it immediately sparked my interest. When the audiobook finally became available over the summer, I thought it was perfect timing! With the Fire on High was a touching story of family and perseverance, enticing me with delicious food and embracing me with the warmth of motherly love.   

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo

PUBLISHED BY HarperTeen (HarperCollins)on May 7th 2019

GENRES: Contemporary

PAGES: 400 


With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free. 

Trigger/Content Warnings: premarital sex, teen pregnancy, slut-shaming

With the Fire on High follows the story of Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Latina 17-year-old who has a gift for cooking—when people eat her food, they’re transported to FLAVORTOWN  a world where food can light a spark within your soul and inspire you. ✨ She dreams of attending culinary school where she can train to become a world-renowned chef, and coincidentally, her school has recently announced a new culinary arts class. Amidst all her student responsibilities, Emoni is also a teenage mother to the cutest 3-year-old little and lives with her grandmother who raised her.

The family relationships within this book were done so so well. I loved seeing the realities Abuela Gloria and Emoni faced, juggling the responsibilities of raising a child in a single-parent household while trying to ensure being able to give them all that you can. 💞 Although my mother didn’t have me when she was a teenager, I grew up in a single-parent household and spent a lot of time growing up with my grandma. Throughout the story, you can really see how much love and care they have for one another and continuously kept looking forward despite the hardships falling onto their path.

“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.” 

I am such a fan of books that feature cooking, and this one had me hungry 24/7. 🤤 As you read through Acevedo’s writing, you can easily see Emoni’s passion for cooking fly off the page (and awaken the hunger in your belly). The vivid imagery makes it easy to picture the spices that Emoni is working with and also how her cooking makes others feel. If To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before inspired me to start my baking hobby, With the Fire on High emboldens me to become a chef.

The romance between the characters was lighthearted, showing a contrast with the relationship between Emoni and her ex-partner/father-of-her-child. While Tyrone and his mother were the bane of my existence, Malachi was sweet, caring, and understood Emoni’s responsibilities as a mother first. However, I wasn’t really a fan of the drama and pettiness between Emoni and “Pretty Leslie”, a girl who also has a crush on Malachi, though I could understand why it was used to showcase differing perspectives.

Overall, this book was a pleasant surprise, and I’m really glad that I gave it a chance and picked it up. If you ever get the chance to listen to the audiobook, I’d highly recommend it because it flies by quickly and is easy to listen to throughout your day. I’m excited to see more of Elizabeth Acevedo’s work, and I’m hoping to pick up her other novel, The Poet X, sometime soon!

“The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance.” 

Have you read With the Fire on High?

What were your thoughts?

Instagram | YouTube | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Instagram | YouTube | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

22 thoughts on “Book Review: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

  1. Tiffany, you haven’t read The Poet X yet? Seriously, you need to pick up her debut novel asap, it’s that good.

    I also really enjoyed With the Fire on High. This book definitely transports you to flavortown, and I could actually see you try some of Emoni’s recipe in the future.

    Great review!


    1. LORI i am honestly so ashamed to say that i haven’t. it was always something i was interested in picking up but never actually made the move. i think i definitely will now that i’ve read and really enjoyed with the fire on high.

      and afjkdslfas emoni’s cooking is just way too advanced and amazing to even compare to my amateur baking skills. i just really loved reading about her passion for the activity. thank you for reading my review, lori!! *hugs*


  2. I had a similar experience with her first book, The Poet X. I totally unexpectedly fell in love with it like a happy surprise as well – and this book was so beautiful as well. I loved this one so much too. Acevedo’s writing is so beautiful and lush – I was forever hungry when reading it as well. Flavortown, lol, was such a perfect way to describe. The Poet X – while a little different since it’s told in verse – is absolutely amazing as well, so I hope you enjoy it when you get to it! Wonderful review. 🙂


    1. Oooo Ok you have me a lot more excited to read The Poet X now! Her writing was just so beautiful to read. Is the Poet X also about food? and LOLOL I knew I just had to use that wording when I could.

      Thank you so much for reading my review!!


  3. I’m so happy you loved this one!!!!!!! i also loved her family relationships, and the romance was so understanding and sweet ❤ & I felt exactly the same way about Tyrone! whenever he appeared in the story I was on edge, because the drama + stress

    I can't wait for you to read The Poet X, I loved that one so much more ❤


    1. YES OMG I UNDERSTAND YOUR FEELS!! Whenever Tyrone showed up, I got so heated, and when his mother called Emoni, I got so mad!! I’m really excited for The Poet X now, especially if you loved it even more. 🥰


  4. I loved With The Fire On High so much! I’m glad you loved it too ❤ And YES, after reading it, I just wants to become a chef, nothing else 😀 I hope you love The Poet X because it's soooo good too!


    1. Ahhh I’m glad!! This was so so good. I can definitely understand why you’d enjoy it. I’m so excited for The Poet X now because I’m such a fan of Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing 😍❤️


  5. I read The Poet X recently and I’m now reading it again by listening to the audiobook because I heard that it’s really good. I can’t wait to pick up With the Fire on High soon!


    1. Ooo I was doing the same with With The Fire On High! I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed it, so I’m hoping to pick up The Poet X audiobook sometime soon 💖


  6. Ohmygosh I’m so glad you reviewed this book, Tiffany – I’ve seen it in almost every bookstore I’ve been to recently & keep umming & ahhing about buying it! Guess you made the decision for me 😉

    💛 Ngoc


    1. Yes!! It was such a great book, and you’ll feel so so hungry after reading it 💞Thank you so much Ngoc for reading my review!! Let me know your thoughts when you pick it up~


  7. I totally agree with your review! I listened to the audiobook for With the Fire on High recently as well and absolutely loved it!! I just loved the relationship between Emoni and Abuela Gloria as well as getting to see Emoni be an awesome mother to her child. I feel like we don’t really see responsible, loving teen parents represented very often in YA, so I loved seeing Emoni be such a great mom!


    1. Yes!! The audiobook was just so great to listen, and the family relationships were so heartwarming and fun to read. Abuela Gloria was amazing, and you already know Emoni is going to be a great mother. ❤ I thought it was greatly depicted too. Thank you for reading my review, Caitlin!!


  8. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT FLAVORTOWN IS AND I STILL DON’T KNOW. Also I love that gif of that guy chewing really rapidly lmaooooo!! I really need to read this book, especially because the inside cover ??? is too gorgeous. I LOVE IT.


    1. FLAVORTOWN IS LIKE A MEME WITH GUY FIERI. I really don’t know much about it, but it seemed appropriate to write and talk about with this review because uh flavor and cooking YA KNOW. I def recommend the audiobook if you’re going to read the book!


  9. This book was such a quiet favorite of mine. I finished it and knew it was nothing less than 5 stars, but couldn’t quite vocalize all the elements I loved about it! I loved reading your review though because it highlighted so many aspects that I loved! I do think that The Poet X is my favorite though, so I can’t wait for you to read it!


    1. OOOO “quiet favorite” is a great way to describe this book. So much about it was enjoyable to read. I’m actually really excited for The Poet X now because so many people have said they enjoyed it more, and since I really liked With the Fire on High…I can only expect great things for it!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s