Family should always be something you cherish. With family comes love. With family comes celebrations and get togethers, and with that comes food and more love.
Holiday (and some birthday, baby shower, and holy communion) get togethers were usually pretty big for our family when I was young. Before my grandmother passed away I remember her working her butt off in the kitchen for us. Easter and Thanksgiving were pretty normal meals of ham and turkey, but Christmas time we had her tamales to look forward to, and what I wouldn’t give to taste one of those now when I could actually appreciate it!
Now that I’m older, and we no longer live within a 10-15 minute driving distance of our family, we don’t have the pleasure of enjoying those big get togethers very often. But, when we do get the whole family together, we definitely have food to look forward to. It may not always be Hispanic cuisine, but it has always seemed like eating together was/is what we do, and I think it is partly to do with our Hispanic culture. It always makes me think of the line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Toula says, “‘Cause we’re always together, just eating, eating, eating!”
It seems that my grandma was the main cook for these get togethers. After she passed, my Aunt Rita seemed to take over her role in the kitchen. We lost my Aunt Rita several years ago as well, and I now feel that my Aunt Sally inherited their touch in the kitchen. That’s not to say that my mom doesn’t have the touch, because when she cooks she does it with love, but she’s also always been the hardest working for our household, so growing up with my parents and my brother, sometimes she just didn’t have the time or energy to cook a big homemade meal for us.
“It’s wild to miss someone so much, and yet in order to care for them you have to constantly say goodbye.”
She cooks a lot more now, and we had so much fun making homemade tamales together this past Christmas, but there is one meal I always look forward to when my Aunt Sally comes to visit (sorry mom), and that’s her homemade enchiladas and Spanish rice. We can’t get enough of it and every time I ask my Aunt for a recipe she tells me she just cooks it by taste and feel.
I absolutely love my family. I love when we get together. I love looking forward to eating with them (whether it be home cooked, or at a restaurant), and being loud and obnoxious with them. I love the nostalgia that certain meals bring (like the tamales we made over Christmas, and Aunt Sally’s famous enchiladas), and I love that when I think of food, I think of family, and when I think of family, I think of love.
With the Fire on High was one of those books that made me feel this way. It made me think about those memories of our get togethers. It made me miss my grandma’s cooking, and wish that I could taste it as an adult, and it made me really appreciate my mom and my Aunt (and my cousin Elisa and her husband Indio because they sometimes cook for us, and he especially is an amazing cook) and how much love they put in to their cooking when they cook for us.
Book Title: With the Fire on High
Book Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publishing Date: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Harper Teen
Synopsis: With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
With the Fire on High was full of flavor, like a well-developed sauce. It was sweet and savory with a little bit of spice. And it was oh so delicious.
“And I hope he can see in my face that I just sprinkled the juju of a spiteful Puerto Rican grandmother all over his life.”
I absolutely adored this book. It made my heart full and really had me thinking about family. It was so powerful and very touching. I was completely satisfied when I read the last page, and the whole thing just made me feel so empowered.
This story was everything I hoped it would be. It featured a strong, determined, female MC. It had some great moral messages about the importance of family, doing what’s right, not judging someone by their appearances, and believing in yourself. And, it had some amazing characters, and a strong plot.
But, I’ve gotta talk about Emoni for a moment. This girl was fierce. Emoni did everything she could to make sure she took care of baby girl. She was proud, intelligent, respectful, focused, and so passionate about her cooking and family. She was also flawed, and sometimes lacked confidence in herself, and that’s why I loved her the most. She flourished as the story progressed. She allowed herself to find happiness while taking of her loved ones and doing what she loved the most. She was an inspiration, and she was beautiful!
“…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.”
I also really loved ‘Buela. That woman was so strong. She was kind and caring and went above and beyond for her family. I couldn’t have read this story without her. She played a big part in the story and Emoni’s life, and I loved her so much!
I just really loved all the little details in the story, though. The bits of Spanish, and cultural references to Emoni’s family, the recipes sprinkled throughout the book, and the little bits of humor (and amazing LGBT+ rep) coming from Emoni’s kick ass best friend, Angelica. And, could I just talk about how amazing Angelica was? She was the best friend anyone could ask for, and she was definitely part of Emoni and ‘Buela’s family, and I just loved her character!
With the Fire on High breathed life. It emanated power. It was beautiful and thought provoking. It touched my heart and lit a fire within me. Acevedo writes with such passion, and she was able to season this book with so much emotion and flavor! I knew the minute I saw that amazing cover, and synopsis, that I would love this book, and I was not disappointed at all!
“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.”
Thank you to HarperTeen/ Harper Collins for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review, and as part of the blog tour.
All quotes used are from the book, written by the author.
“And 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.”
About the Author:
ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She has two collections of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and winner of the 2016 Berkshire Prize, Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm (Tupelo Press, forthcoming). The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.
April 22 – Afire Pages | Welcome Post & BTS Look on the Cover Design Process
April 23 – Reading Peaches
April 24 – Shut Up, Shealea | Printable wallpapers/ bookmarks
April 25 – A Book Devourer | “The Life of Emoni; A Comparison”
April 26 – Bookish Wanderess
April 27 – Flipping Through the Pages
April 28 – Utopia State of Mind
April 29 – For the Love of Diversity in Books | Aesthetics + Quote Graphics
April 30 – The Royal Polar Bear Reads | Instagram Photos
May 1 – Endless Chapters | Recipe
May 2 – The Ultimate Fangirl
May 3 – The Wolf & Books
May 4 – Book Lover’s Book Reviews
May 5 – Weekend Reader | Cover Inspired Hairstyle
May 6 – The Writer and The Story | Favorite Quotes
May 7 – Themollyweather
May 8 – All Things Gene
May 9 – Darque Dreamer Reads | Food, Family, and Love
May 10 – Your Tita Kate
May 11 – Afergtale | “Stories Our Abuelas Wouldn’t Tell Today”
May 12 – F A N N A
Yep, you read that right! This blog tour has giveaways, not just one giveaway. Enter below to win a book or a t-shirt of With the Fire on High! You can enter not just one or the other, but BOTH giveaways. The giveaways are open internationally until May 22nd.
ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH
ENTER TO WIN A WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH SHIRT
Shirt design by Melissa Chan, read more about her designs here.
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