Oh my god. I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book! YA is honestly a genre that never really piques my interest, but because I read so many rave reviews about this one on Bookstagram, I decided to give this one a shot. I’m so glad that I did, because this story was absolutely wonderful and is the best YA book I’ve read in a really long time.
BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—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.
Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.”
Elizabeth Acevedo is a very talented writer and absolutely kills it with a captivating storyline, well developed characters, and addressing delicate topics in such a beautiful way. Acevedo does an incredible job at crushing the stigma and societal hypocrisy around teenage pregnancy with the main character, Emoni, who is an incredibly brave, strong, hardworking, loyal, talented, creative and loving mother/daughter/granddaughter/friend, etc. I loved being able to watch her mature as she overcame several challenges and fears with grace throughout this book. Emoni is an incredible role model and her character made me so proud, wishing I could step into the story and give her a huge hug. I also loved the supporting characters that played such a crucial role in Emoni’s life and senior year- ‘Buela, Angelica, Malachi, Chef Ayden, Chef Amadi, Ms. Fuentes, and even Tyrone. It was refreshing being able to watch Emoni and Tyrone handle their unique relationship in such a mature way, and seeing them grow throughout the book and increasingly support one another as co-parents in order to best raise Emma and support one another in achieving their own personal goals was beautiful.
I also loved that this book centered around Emoni’s passion for cooking and her natural skills at creating incredible meals that are known for eliciting so much emotion from others and bringing people together. I loved the recipes placed throughout the book and Acevedo’s attention to detail in describing Emoni’s culinary experiences to the reader was mouth-watering. I was truly captivated by Emoni’s passion and perseverance when it came to chasing her culinary dreams.
I truly can’t recommend this book enough, especially for those like me who aren’t as into YA novels. If you’re looking for a feel-good story with a wonderful storyline and inspiring characters that will stick with you for a long time, you need to read this. This was the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth Acevedo and it absolutely lived up to all the hype. I am officially looking forward to moving the other books I own by her at the top of my TBR list.
BEER RECOMMENDATION: With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo is best paired with Nitro Crème Brûlée by Southern Tier Brewing Company. This delicious imperial milk stout is like liquid dessert-smooth, creamy and sweet with flavors of burnt sugar 🍻