It’s been a second, but I’m here, I’m back. I’ve been writing something crazy. Believe it or not I’m 10 chapters through writing my own book / novella / novel / whatever. I’ve been going great guns at work. It’s been summer which is our busiest time of year at the library and things have tumbled along like they usually do, with a mixture of chaos and a small side order of guilt. Guilt at not completing projects, not having enough time, not dedicating enough energy to this blog, not finishing work volunteering for the Freemasons (long story). Anyhow, here I am (finally) and I have a great book for you!
This one is by Elizabeth Acevedo and I’ve been waiting and waiting on its arrival. I wrote a post previously on Acevedo’s Poet X which was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I knew that I would enjoy this work too, and I was not wrong.
The title is With the Fire on High and it looks like this:
Emoni Santiago has a gift. When she turns the fire on high in the kitchen, magic happens. Her grandmother knows it, her friend Angelica knows it, even the new guy at her school, Malachi, knows it. She can transform a meal into an experience and bring memories to life with food. But since she got pregnant in her freshman year, Emoni has trouble believing in herself and looking forward to the possibility of living her dream and becoming a chef. She struggles to find a way to make the impossible possible, to trust in love again, and to believe that she deserves to fulfill her aspirations.
This is the tale of a young woman and her quest for self-worth. Acevedo delivers a relatable and lovable character in Emoni, a supportive but dis-functional family, and a cast of practical friends and teachers that surround the protagonist on her journey. The plot is beautiful and Acevedo’s descriptions of food are mouth watering. This is a story that challenges views of culture, particularly mixed cultures, where personal identification to one or another can become blurred. This is also a story that challenges stereotypes and gives hope and credence to the idea that reinventing oneself is possible by taking a chance.
I did like our protagonist Emoni, who is used creatively to dramatize the process of self-change in this book, and whose character development pushes the plot along well. However, there were times that I found her character slightly unbelievable in her practicality. Emoni’s empathetic dialogue with her baby daddy, for instance, seems to be the stuff of idealism and extreme maturity that I wasn’t 100% believing of, though it certainly does not take away from the story at all. There are some absolutely gorgeous quotes in this book!
And folks learned quick, if they had a problem with Angelica, they could mix me. If they had a problem with me, they were facing the two of us.
And ain’t that what it means to be a sister? Holding things tight when the other one is falling apart? (pg. 150-51)
I hear what he is saying, but it’s like each piece of information is a bit of colored glass and I need hold it up to the light to see how it shines. (p. 186)
And I know the past isn’t a mirror image of the future, but it’s a reflection of what can be; and when your first love breaks your heart, the shards of that can still draw blood for a long, long time. (pg. 331)
And like a map I’ve been following without knowing the exact destination, I know now I’ve been equipping myself with tools from the journey to help me survive when I arrive. (pg. 382)
Acevedo has a brilliant talent for writing a journey of the soul, and this one is well worth your time. You can get it HERE but don’t forget to love your library and get a copy there!
Enjoy the read and leave your comments! And I hope you have eaten dinner, because this WILL make you hungry.