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    Phenomenal

    Emoni is a 17 year old Puerto Rican girl living in Philadelphia with her 'Buela (grandmother)...she's also a mother to a 2 year old baby named Emma, who she endearingly refers to as Babygirl. Her big passion since being not much older than her daughter, is cooking. She's not just...good at it, she's gifted, her 'Buela believes it's magic. With The Fire On High has such a cosy, homely, feel-good vibe to it and I loved seeing Emoni's journey of finding her place in the world, despite the obstacles life has thrown at her. There are so many wonderful characters that I found myself rooting for, especially Emoni and Malachi! This book deals with some serious topics like teenage pregnancy and racial prejudice; as a black girl, living in such a white centric country and the expectations of her in the Puerto Rican community where she lives in Philadelphia. What hit me hard in this story was Emoni's decision to give her baby a 'white' sounding name in order to give her better choices in life, because of the discrimination she herself experiences. There's a great deal of empathy in this book, it actually felt difficult to distinguish Emoni as a fictional character and not a real-life person that I've come to know and care about. The author has clearly taken the time to research teenage pregnancy, what it's like to raise a child when a parent is still very young themselves and something that really shines through in the book is what a good mum Emoni is. Elizabeth Acevedo has such a gorgeous, poetic way of telling a story that pulls you all the way in, she's now one of my go to authors. The illustrations throughout the book are stunning and I really want to try Emoni's recipes as they sound incredible. Thank you very much to Readers First and Hot Key Books for With The Fire On High.
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    Faith

    Emoni Santiago is that teenage girl your parents always warned you to keep away from. Her mother is dead and her father is absent so she is being raised by her grandmother and is from a relatively insalubrious neighbourhood. Even worse she got pregnant at 16 and decided to keep the child, even though she is estranged from the baby-daddy. She also had the audacity to stay at her Charter school, wandering the hallways with her protruding belly instead of hiding away from "decent society". Nothing really changes does it. Heck, I went to secondary school (roughly equivalent to middle and high school) in the early 1980s and in every year that I was there at least 1 girl of 14, 15 or 16 would turn up pregnant (usually 2 or 3). Even worse this was a Catholic High School with nuns as the head and deputy headteachers so you would have thought we would have been morally immune. But no, teenagers are teenagers the world over and it's no different in the 21st century than it was in the 20th. What Ms Acevedo does with this book is show not to judge a book by it's cover. Yes Emoni is mixed race, yes she is a teenage mother, yes she is from a cash poor home. All things that the media tells us to fear and to hate. Yes Emoni is a loyal friend, yes she is a good mother, yes she works hard both in school and at the Burger Joint. All things that the media tells us are to be applauded. Emoni narrates the book and she is warm and rather wise. She struggles to balance her life and has her failures and her triumphs - in fact she is far more mature than I and I am almost at my half century. From early on in the book it is very hard to escape the pull of her personality and be sucked in to the trivialities of daily life and to really pull for her when things get tough. I never once felt the touch of the author in the book, it felt wholly authentic as the voice of a 17 year old. I wouldn't go so far as to say I laughed and I cried with her; but I was definitely invested in her life. The only downside in the whole thing for me was Malachi. As a character he is great and probably just what Emoni needs. However, he was a little bit too good to be true for my taste. Even worse I started to find myself humming the Fresh Prince theme tune after finding out his reasons for moving to live with his Aunt (admittedly he only moved across Philly and not to Beverley Hills). I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It did feel a little "pulled back" in places but maybe this is to do with the target demographic rather than any failing of the authors. Definitely a wonderful story that really does explore the nature of being a human. THIS IS AN HONEST REVIEW OF A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK RECEIVED FROM READERS FIRST
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