With the Fire on High

“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”
― Elizabeth Acevedo

This book was so heart-warming and cozy. I was a fan of the author , Elizabeth Acevedo, for her poetry and when I saw her name on this book I had to read it! I loved the writing style as well as the incorporation of recipes throughout the book .This contemporary novel was a very light break from the typical fantasy/adventure books that I usually read, but it was exactly what I needed. It’s a unique coming of age story with a not so unique situation, but we need more diverse books like these that tells a narrative about young moms through a different perspective

The story follows an Afro-Latina girl, Emoni Santiago, who is a young mother and an aspiring chef. Her dream is to attend a culinary arts school to enhance her already amazing cooking skills, but being a teen mother leaves her with some difficult choices to make. Her life is no longer about hers alone and Emoni struggles to find the balance between providing for her daughter, while also trying to move forward with her own life. Emoni’s mother passed away when she was born and her father, not being able to deal with the grief, left Emoni in the care of her abuela. Abuela barley make ends meet and with another mouth to feed Emoni has to work while finishing school to help out around the house.

Emoni continued to keep her head up and was proud of her daughter, despite the often pitiful glances from strangers and fellow classmates for getting knocked up so young.There is also a potential love interest in the book, Malachi, but things were taken very slowly. I felt like the budding romance added a perfect touch, as there was something very pure about their friendship. However,after going through the experience with her daughter’s father, Emoni wants to take her time in the dating world and is more focused on figuring out her complex future.

“If there was one thing I learned once my belly started showing it’s that you can’t control how people look at you, but you can control how far back you pull your shoulders and how high you lift your chin.”
― Elizabeth Acevedo

I loved how strong this character was and that the author’s approach wasn’t focused on the teen pregnancy itself, as with most books, but rather on the timeline of her being a mother. That is where the real journey begins and Acevedo opens up the dialogue surrounding the stigma of teen mothers. Emoni was such a lovable character and dealt with every obstacle with such maturity and grace. As a mother myself , I can relate to the struggle of finding your own self and defining your own path, without the “mom guilt” you feel for wanting something for yourself. This emotion is universal, whether you’re a teen mom or not.

To simply put it, it was a beautiful book and I would love to read more from Elizabeth Acevedo.

“…food is meant to feed more than an empty belly. It’s also meant to nourish your heart.” -Emoni”
― Elizabeth Acevedo,

Love,

Toni 🙂

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