Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more

With the Fire on High

by Elizabeth Acevedo

'new gen' - Great Books for Young Adults Family Drama Sharing Diverse Voices

LoveReading View on With the Fire on High

From the one-of-a-kind author of Poet X comes a one-of-a-kind novel suffused in YA’s finest features - friendship, shifting family relationships, fighting to find your voice, romantic passion – and more besides, thanks to the exuberant drive of its teen mom protagonist.


Emoni has an extraordinary gift for creative cooking and a complicated home life. Her mom, whose family is “straight-from-the-Carolinas Black” died in childbirth, which caused her grief-stricken Puerto Rican dad to head home to his island. As a result Emoni was raised by his mother, the fabulous ‘Buela. Emoni is used to hearing other people’s problems with her dual heritage (“it’s like I’m some long-division problem folks keep wanting to parcel into pieces, and they don’t hear me when I say: I don’t reduce, homies. The whole of me is Black. The whole of me is whole”), but since falling pregnant in her freshman year she has a new set of struggles to contend with.


It’s not easy being a teenage mom while also studying, working and dealing with Babygirl’s judgmental paternal grandmother, but somehow Emoni keeps it all going, finding soulful solace in the kitchen: “I’m happier in the kitchen than anywhere else in the world…my food doesn’t just taste good, it is good – straight up bottled goodness that warms you and makes you feel better about your life”.

Enrolling on a culinary arts class makes Emoni even more determined to accomplish her gastronomic career goals, and also brings her heatedly close to new boy Malachi. But with multiple obstacles at every turn, when life reaches boiling point her best friend and family step-up as supporting sous chefs.


Spiced with inspirational wisdom (“Taking risks and making choices in spite of fear – it’s what makes our life story compelling” says one of Emoni’s teachers; “The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely chose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance,” says Emoni), this luminous novel challenges multiple stereotypes and dances to its own love-infused, inspirational beat.

Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Joanne Owen

With the Fire on High Synopsis

From the author of The Poet X comes a sumptuous prose novel, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas' On the Come Up, Justin Reynolds' Opposite of Always and Nicola Yoon.

Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni's life has been about making the tough decisions - doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands - whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone. Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything, but she knows it's pointless to pursue the impossible. There are rules she has to play by. And yet, once she starts cooking, and gets that fire on high, she sees that her drive to feed will feed her soul and dreams too. And anything is possible.

With the Fire on High Press Reviews

With The Fire On High was everything I was expecting from Elizabeth Acevedo, she is now one of my favourite authors. I read Acevedo's debut The Poet X last year and it's brilliance was mind blowing. With The Fire On High is another exceptional book by this author. This book follows Emoni Santiago, a young, single mother still in high school and living with her Abuela. Emoni's life has never been simple, her mother died in childbirth and her father walked out soon after, she fell pregnant at fourteen and has since been raising her daughter alone with her Abuela. One of Emoni's only passions in life is cooking so when a culinary arts elective is added as an option in her senior year, she thinks her dreams are finally coming true. But this class isn't the walk in the park she was expecting. It will challenge not only her cooking, but her determination, perseverance and leadership skills. I loved the magical element to this novel, how Emoni's dishes brought up bittersweet or loving memories to their recipients, it added a whimsical feel to the story. The recipes at the beginning of each part was a lovely addition to the book as well. Acevedo discusses difficult and varying topics such as race, teen pregnancy, single parenthood, relationships, family and poverty. The writing is so smooth and easy to read, I find Acevedo's writing to be so soothing. I would urge everyone to read this glorious book. - Library Looter

Though she is still a high-school student, Emoni has a two-year-old daughter, for whom she wants nothing but the best. When it comes to her own prospects, she is less focused - but then she's offered the chance to join a cooking class taught by a gifted chef, to develop her own subtle palate and powerful gift. A delicious, evocative story from this year's Carnegie winner. - The Guardian

With its judicious depth and brilliant blazes of writing that simmer, then nourish, With the Fire on High is literary soul food   New York Times

If you loved this, you might like these...

The Supreme Lie
House of Hollow
Rule of Wolves
Kid A History of The Future

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781471409004
Publication date: 19/09/2019
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback

About Elizabeth Acevedo

ELIZABETH ACEVEDO was born and raised in New York City and her poetry is infused with Dominican bolero and her beloved city's tough grit. With over twelve years of performance experience, Acevedo has been a featured performer on BET and Mun2, as well as delivered several TED Talks. She has performed internationally and her poetry has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post and Teen Vogue. Acevedo is a National Slam Champion, Beltway Grand Slam Champion, and the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam representative for Washington, D.C, where she lives and works. The Poet X is a New ...

More About Elizabeth Acevedo

More Books By Elizabeth Acevedo

Cover for Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Cover for Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Cover for The Poet X  by Elizabeth Acevedo
View All Books By Elizabeth Acevedo

Share this book