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With the Fire on High

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
With the Fire on High Book Poster Image
Teen mom/chef's inspiring tale shows perseverance, teamwork.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers learn about food safety and how to work in a kitchen. They'll also learn about Spanish, Puerto Rican, and African American culture and history. Teens might be inspired to try the recipes that are included at the beginning of each part of Emoni's journey.

Positive Messages

Respect, perseverance, courage, and teamwork are important themes. Only you can write the story of your life. Don't be afraid to take risks. Have faith that you will succeed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emoni isn’t a quitter and learns how to be part of a team. She’s selfless and will do whatever it takes to give her daughter the best opportunities in the world. Abuela is supportive and gives Emoni the freedom to make decisions concerning her daughter. She has sacrificed so much to raise three generations of her family and has taught Emoni about the sacrifices and responsibility that come with being a parent. Angelica is a fiercely loyal and protective friend. Malachi is a kind and polite gentleman who respects the Emoni’s boundaries. Ms. Fuentes and Chef Ayden recognize Emoni’s talent and potential. They help her understand the importance of respect and see that taking risks is part of life.

Violence

A character reveals that his younger brother was shot and killed.

Sex

Emoni talks about why she decided to lose her virginity and another character questions if she's ready to have sex. Couples make out and undress each other. A teacher utters unintended sexual innuendos when he has students "taste her chocolate pudding" and asks if Emoni would prefer joining a group and becoming part of a "threesome."

Language

Emoni tries to avoid swearing and reminds her friend to watch her language. There are very few uses of "s--t," "dick," "ass," "bitch," "hell," and "ho."

Consumerism

Emoni is constantly worried about money, especially because Buela is on disability. Pop culture mentions include Moana, Netflix, Chopped, Top Chef, Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsey, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, and more. 

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mentions of wine, absinthe, beer, and sangria. Teens drink while on a class trip.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that With the Fire on High is Elizabeth Acevedo's inspiring novel about Emoni Santiago, a half-Puerto Rican half-African American high school senior and teen mom, who dreams of becoming a chef after she graduates high school. Readers will understand the importance of respect, courage, perseverance, and teamwork. They'll also learn about food safety and how to work in a kitchen, as well as about Spanish, Puerto Rican, and African American culture and history. Emoni talks about why she decided to lose her virginity, and another character questions if she's ready to have sex. There are a few scenes where couples make out and undress each other. A teacher utters unintended sexual innuendos when he has students "taste her chocolate pudding" and asks if Emoni would prefer joining a group and becoming part of a "threesome." Strong langauge is infrequent, with just a few uses of "s--t," "dick," "ass," "bitch," "hell," and "ho." There are mentions of wine, absinthe, beer, and sangria. Teens drink while on a class trip.

User Reviews

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There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written bySmaksin1120 June 13, 2019

Amazing

The book has such a great concept. Emoni is a strong young mother who still wants to persue her dream of cooking. Kids will learn kitchen safety. The book has s... Continue reading

What's the story?

High school hasn't been easy for Emoni Santiago after she got pregnant her freshman year. She's had to work twice as hard as the other students to stay on track while doing everything she can to support her daughter and her abuela. The only place Emoni can take a break from making tough decisions is in the kitchen when she's cooking WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH to create food so good that people call it magic.

When her school offers a culinary arts class, which includes a week-long trip to Spain, Emoni’s excited to finally get some hands-on experience working in a kitchen. She knows she has the talent but does she have the time or the money for the class? With graduation approaching, Emoni must decide if her dreams of becoming a chef are worth pursuing.

Is it any good?

Teens will love the diverse characters, heartwarming relationships, and deliciously rich descriptions of Emoni’s dishes in Elizabeth Acevedo’s inspiring coming-of-age tale. The gorgeous cover art showcases Emoni’s strength, and the quick chapters filled with vibrant details make her story unputdownable. It’s clear that Emoni struggles to put herself first, but with supportive family, friends, and mentors by her side, she realizes that she can still be the best mom to her daughter while simultaneously pursuing her passion. Cooking isn’t just a way for Emoni to provide for her family. It helps her connect with her past, set the course for her future, and learn the importance of respect, courage, perseverance, and teamwork.

As With the Fire on High progresses and readers experience the sour, savory, and bittersweet moments of Emoni’s journey, they’ll be inspired to follow their dreams and have faith that they'll succeed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various kinds of diversity in With the Fire on High. Why are diverse representations important in children's and young adult literature?

  • Does the romance portrayed seem realistic and relatable? Do young adult romance novels help readers sort out their feelings and learn how to communicate, or do they create false expectations about teen relationships?

  • How do the characters demonstrate respect, courage, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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