With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High

Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago has been 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. She dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, but knows that is impossible. But once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free. -- adapted from jacket
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062662835
Characteristics: 389 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
SPPL_TKBTeenChoice Aug 14, 2019

From TKB Teen Stella: This book is about a girl named Emoni who is navigating her senior year of high school while being a teen mom to her daughter Emma or “babygirl”. The most compelling aspect of the book is just how well Emoni handles everything life throws at her, and getting to see a teen mom’s perspective of high school.

sjpl_rebekah Aug 02, 2019

I have not yet read The Poet X, but I’ve heard enough hype about it that I was excited to get my hands on Acevedo’s newest novel. I have a feeling this book will also be widely acclaimed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it too is nominated for a Printz Award.

This book conveys many positive messages about family, identity, hard work, and following your dreams. I thought the whole thing was very smartly packaged and it’s short chapters will make it very appealing to reluctant readers. In fact, I would say this book could be categorized as a hi/lo reader (high interest, low reading level) for teens.

Although I was well past my teens when I had my first child, I shared many of the same feelings of inadequacy and frustration that Emoni struggles with throughout the story. As a full-time librarian, I often feel that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with my son. It is incredibly difficult to balance work and family, and Emoni has the additional pressure of school and being a single parent. While many teenagers must make difficult decisions about college and the future, Emoni’s responsibility to her daughter makes the stakes so much higher. I really like the direction Emoni’s character chooses in the end, and I hope it encourages others to follow a similar path.

I loved the fact that each part of the book is prefaced by a recipe. This book really got me hyped to try new things in the kitchen, and really changed the way I think about cooking as a whole. Very inspiring!

Jul 28, 2019

Rhoda & Jayla

LPL_MaryW Jul 20, 2019

Whenever Emoni Santiago cooks, magic happens. Her abuela has always told her she has a gift, and she dreams of becoming a world-renowned chef. Philadelphia native and young mother, Emoni works hard to make a better life for herself and Babygirl. When the opportunity arises to take a culinary arts course during her last year of high school, Emoni takes the chance to follow her dream. What I loved the most is how comfortable Emoni is in her own skin — she jumped right off the page and into my heart. Filled with love and sprinkled with cinnamon dust, this book is one you’ll remember.

Tigard_LisaE Jul 18, 2019

After Acevedo's gorgeous novel in verse, The Poet X, I wasn't expecting to see prose when I opened this book, but oh it is just as lovely. She has a way with words that cut right to the point of deepest emotion. These characters feel, and I feel with them. Emoni's devotion to her daughter and abuela are as relatable to her ambivalence towards her father. She is deeply rooted in her Phillie neighborhood, and though she has never seen the island in person, her Puerto Rican ancestry is just as significant, especially when she cooks. And, oh, the food! Somebody create a gastronomical simulator so I can eat the contents of this book! Even though not much happens in this novel in terms of conflict or dramatic plot points, I was deeply engaged. While Emoni's best friend and love interest are a bit too perfect, all other characters, especially her abuela and teachers, ring true. I like this one a lot.

Jul 17, 2019

I could not put this book down. I needed to know what choices Emoni would make and where they would lead her. I still want to know how some of those choices ended up, but this story came to an end and she is embarking on the journey of adulthood. Would read another story about this fierce, amazing woman and her sweet Babygirl.

Jul 13, 2019

I did like this book and it was really good but I guess I just wanted more from it. Not even that it lacked in specific areas but it was all very surface, even though there were some hard hitting issues, I felt like they were touched on once or twice but other that that they didn't really play into the story at all other than to be mentioned. (The custody thing and Emoni's dad leaving but staying in contact and her never really confronting that until the very end briefly)

One thing I did really enjoy was the cooking. Everything that surrounded the cooking and the culinary arts class and the Spain trip and Emoni working in the restaurant in Spain. It was so perfect and maybe that is what I wanted more of the story to be. More of her exploring her love for cooking and less of the romance. I did like the romance but I'm realizing that, for me, it took away from what I actually wanted in the story. I kinda feel the same about Abuela, for my personal liking there was too much on her character. I enjoyed the encouragement and support for Emoni and her relationship with her son/Emoni's dad, but I think the tidbits about her romance, which I caught on to right away and was dragged on until the end of the book, could've been omitted. I want more cooking and more about Emoni & Emma and their dynamic and the COOKING.

I did enjoy Emma and her role in Emoni's story and I 100% am glad that it was included and it didn't take away at all. It talked about the struggle of teenage pregnancy but it showed how it worked out for Emoni and Emma (and every Tyrone) in the end. I liked getting to know tidbits about Emma but would've, again, enjoyed her more if she was more apart of the story instead of focusing on the romance. I LIKED THE ROMANCE I SWEAR.

I promise I liked this book, I know all I've done so far in this review is mostly critique and complain but I did like it. But yet here I am, about to critique something else. There were some points in the story where I didn't like Emoni ??? I can't even tell you why but for like 15% of the book she annoyed me. It could be her stubbornness but jeez she bugged me sometimes. Like how she wouldn't confront her Dad or even talk to him about why she was upset with him. Emoni stop being passive-aggressive and talk to your Dad! OTHER than the times I didn't like her, I liked her a lot (duh 😂)! When she got into cooking, it was truly like magic dripped from her finger tips. I wish I could've been there to see it unfold or to taste something that she made. ALSO I'M GLAD THEY INCLUDED RECIPES???!!! I don't know if I'll ever make them but the mere fact they included recipes enriched the whole story even more for me.

OPL_KrisC Jul 12, 2019

A heart-warming book for teens about a young mother still in high school who loves food and cooking and is looking for a way to pursue her dreams against all odds.

JCLHebahA Jul 07, 2019

Another hit from Acevedo. If you listen to audio books at all, get this in audio because she's a phenomenal reader. This story was full of warmth and heart and people doing their best to get by and maybe even dream a little, plus mouth-watering food descriptions. A real treat.

This book was beautifully written. If you have the chance, I recommend trying the audio version as well. It was narrated by the author, who is also the same combinations of ethnicity as the main character in the book, Emoni Santiago. You get a deeper level of understanding as she dives into the constant questioning of her heritage. Is she "black enough", is she "Puerto Rican" enough, and where does she fit in as a young single mom in high school with big culinary dreams. The words in this book were lyrical. I could taste the food as it was described in it's ingredients. I could feel the passion and love as she prepared dishes and created "recipes" through out the book that were relevant to her current mood or circumstance. This was a great story about overcoming circumstances and making good choices despite what the world may think is best for you.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Jul 17, 2019

"Home. I come for a place that's as sweet as curdled milk; where we dream of owning mansions and leaving the hood; where we couldn't imagine having been raised anywhere else. People wonder why I talk so hard, why I smile so rarely at strangers, why i mean mug and carry grit like loose change in my pocket. ... Where we come from leaves it's fingerprints all over us, and if you know how to read the signs of a place, you know a little bit more who someone is."

Jul 17, 2019

"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."


Add Age Suitability
OPL_KrisC Jul 12, 2019

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SMPL

To Top