WELCOME TO WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH BLOG TOUR hosted by yours truly, in partnership with HarperCollins International!
Follow the tour to know what bloggers think about the book, see creative contents, and win a copy AND/OR a shirt!
Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publishing Date: May 7, 2019
Genre: YA Contemporary
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.
TOPICS CLOSE TO EVERYONE’S HEARTS
With the Fire on High tackles various topics and I know for a fact that at least one of those touches the hearts of most, if not everyone, of us. It talks about how it is to be biracial, specifically a half Black American half Puerto Rican, claiming and embracing one’s identity, the daily struggles of being a teenage mom, having an incomplete family and a different than most set up, friendship, dealing with the fear of growing up and losing your safety nets, teen’s curiosity with sex, how life is for people in a household of low income, reaching and working for your dreams and planning for the future while dealing with different constrains, teenage romance, learning from mistakes and forgiveness. Further, history of slavery in the Latin and the Carribean was also tackled in some points while Emoni was telling the history lessons she received from her activist father.
BLEEDING TALENT IN EVERY LINES
I shouldn’t have been surprised because I already expected this but I just couldn’t help but still feel so. From writing a novel in verse to prose, Elizabeth Acevedo did not disappoint. She is bleeding talent and skills in every line. This is not a poetry book she’s writing anymore, but I could still taste poetry in some lines. Acevedo has magic sprinkled into her words, and from poetry to prose, her writing is beautiful, heartfelt and powerful.
This is why I still loved this despite being a contemporary with almost 400 pages. (Ya girl is not a fan of long a$$ contemporaries) It was easy and fast to read. I also like the balance between the monologue and the dialogue. Most chapters were short, which I really liked because I didn’t have to stay much long in a certain scene, spiral of thoughts or day in Emoni’s life (not like I would actually mind!). It was not dragging and I was kept entertained. The topics were just juggled well not to make it feel like the book is only surrounding one or two topics.
FICTIONAL CHARACTERS REPRESENTING REAL PEOPLE
“I’ve always been small: physically petite, which made people think I had a small personality, too. And then, all of a sudden, I was a walking PSA: a bloated teen warning, taking up too much space and calling too much attention.”
I loved Emoni Santiago right from the very first paragraph of this book and she made me more and more in love with her in every page. As I knew her – her hopes, her dreams, her struggles, her mistakes – it was hard not to feel like I am knowing an actual person. And perhaps, she is. Perhaps, she is a representation of a lot of person in the world out there. As well as all of the characters in this book.
What I like more about her is that she ain’t here to wash her hands off clean. she’s here to get real. Not just to us but to herself. She can be a hardheaded, stubborn, savage and a little bit of aloof sometimes. But, she owns her mistakes. She doesn’t act like she’s a victim of what she had done. She commit mistakes and learn from it. She is also hardworking, responsible and passionate. She’s juggling work, school, and being a teen mom altogether. She is a good mom and a person in general. I was constantly reminded how much she loves Emma and ‘Buela. Her character development is also outstanding. And she’s one of the most feisty girls I have met so far in YA.
‘Buela Gloria or simply just ‘Buela, I loved her and her relationship with Emoni. She is an important part of Emoni’s life and the whole story. Her strength and softness combined is something so precious and represents a lot of grandmas I know personally, including mine. I also love the empowerment I saw from her.
Malachi, I didn’t like him at first because I found him airy or too confident of himself. But I eventually liked him because I saw how genuine and good he is. I didn’t go head-over-heals for him though. And I liked that despite his presence, and their romance that gave my life some “kilig”, the book still remained about Emoni and not Emoni and Malachi.
Tyrone, I didn’t like him from the start and I still don’t. Though I appreciate that he didn’t become more of a headache than he already is. And I like that he wasn’t given that much of attention. It proves that just because he is the father of the baby doesn’t mean that the mother’s life will revolve around him.
From ‘Buela (best grandma) to Angelica (best friend), to Chef Ayden (best mentor), to Ms. Fuentes (best teacher), and more, every character felt so real. Though the book wholly focuses on Emoni, a spotlight was still shone to some of the side characters’ lives
SO PURE AND HONEST I COULD CRY
“I know a name alone can’t guarantee new opportunities, but at the very least it’ll give her a chance to get in the room, to let other people realize she’s someone they wasn’t to learn more about.”
Everything about this is so pure. From Emoni’s overflowing love for her child Emma, to ‘Buelas undying love and support to her family, to Angelica and Emoni being the best besties, to seeing Emoni’s household with incomplete family feel like whole despite all the cracks, I just feel the strong need to say PURE. A lot of things, from small to big, have been done in this book out of love and with honesty – for family, for friend, for special someone, for passion, for dreams, and it’s JUST SO PURE.
I CAME HERE TO READ, NOT TO EAT
I came here to be served a great read, a great story, but more than those, I was also served foods. Here, I’ve learned a little bit of Spanish and Latin cuisines, and how to work in the kitchen. Like for real. I felt like I was studying Culinary Arts all the while. This is also championing the power of food. Showing how, not just by making our stomachs full, it can also take us back to time or any place, tell us a story or make us tell a story, to make us all happy. There are also actual recipes in this book and if only I have the resources, I would have tried them.
UNFLINCHINGLY, UNAPOLOGETICALLY, BEAUTIFULLY, DIVERSE
With the Fire on High is not only tackling or breaking gender and race stereotypes but also age. It also adds socio-economic status to the list. It features a diverse cast from Afro-Puerto Rican to Black American, to Polish, to lesbian, to low income earners, to teenage and single moms, to Latinx, to Spanish. It was quite a prod!
The only representation I could actually talk about is having a low income, being a person from a household with a low income myself. And I can tell how accurate the representation is. I saw myself in Emoni back when our family is earning lesser than what we currently have and when I was also in high school. I see myself, my sister, my grandma and my mother make certain decisions and face certain restrictions because of what our low earnings can only allow in Emoni and ‘Buela. I could go on and on about this but I digress.
I am at loss for words to say how much this book, giving a voice to a grandmother, made me feel. This book is strong, thoughtful, and brave for putting all those words ‘Buena dropped right there. Her, claiming her identity and freedom to live for herself as just Gloria and not just as her son’s mother and her granddaughter’s grandmother at that age is truly powerful. And I am so glad this book reminded me of what and who grandmothers truly are.
SATISFYINGLY WRAPPED UP
With the Fire on High, whatever cuisine it may be, was plated and served pretty well. You can feel the journey it took before getting to the final stage, and it will make you appreciate the plate served in front of you. The end was satisfying. I loved the apparent changes in the characters, not just in Emoni but Julio, Leslie, ‘Buela and Tyrone as well, and their relationships. It was a promising end. Carefully, heart-warmingly wrapped up, plated and served.
Elizabeth Acevedo’s new novel has no room for any disappointments. With the Fire on High is a brilliant, breath of a fresh air diverse book full of dreams, love, good food and recipes, slap of the reality, real-like and heart-capturer characters, lessons, and passion. It was like eating my favorite food and I wish I didn’t have to take a last bite. I wish there was no last bite.
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.
Y’ALL I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS FINALLY HAPPENING
The first time I saw the cover reveal for With the Fire on High *which I have been waiting for*, SIS, I was like…
I just wouldn’t have it the other way. I think there is no other perfect way to picture Emoni Santiago and no other perfect cover to be the face of the book other than what the Art Director Erin Fitzsimmons and artist Erick Davila had created. Because what we have now, the final and official cover, is just UNDOUBTEDLY PERFECT to picture Emoni and to say something about the story.
Thanks to HarperCollins International, I now have the incredible opportunity to share with you all the COVER DESIGN PROCESS and BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK on the cover jacket of With the Fire on High, made possible by Art Director, Erin Fitzsimmons herself!
Erin Fitzsimmons is an Art Director for HarperCollins Children’s Books with a passion for typography and hand-lettering and also one of the persons behind The Poet X cover. (No surprise there, right?)
Erick Davila is a fashion and beauty-focused graphic designer and illustrator and the artist responsible for the Emoni Snatiago in the cover being just “the perfect Emoni,” and you can see more of his work on his website and his Instagram.
Without further ado, here is the behind-the-scenes look and cover design process, the amazing and talented, Erin Fitszimmons and Erick Davila have incredibly worked on, and we are all have been craving for.
With the Fire on High Cover Design Process
We knew from the start of this cover design process that we wanted to feature Emoni on the cover, in a strong and beautiful portrait style. Emoni is a very different character from Xiomara in The Poet X so we knew we needed a different art style, and we narrowed in on Erick Davila’s work very quickly.
I had wanted to work with him for years! His portraits are so stunning and vibrant, much like our character Emoni. I also loved that he could incorporate floral and food ingredients into the composition, as cooking and food are such a big part of the story of With the Fire on High.
After a few rounds of pencil sketches, we found the right balance for Emoni’s expression, styling, and features, as well as the overall composition:
We realized that we preferred a simpler composition, and we were missing the strong, defiant eye contact from an earlier sketch. With our character and composition solidified, we moved to color palette. We looked at a variety of beautiful color palettes:
We thought the deep reddish purple was the most unusual, but also complimented Emoni’s skin and hair, as well as the fruit and herb ingredients:
One last element we wanted to include from the beginning was a pre-printed case. We went with a warm, fiery color palette for the case cover, so it would pop out nicely under the jacket:
The finished copies are !
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
May 10 – Your Tita Kate
May 11 – Afergtale | “Stories Our Abuelas Wouldn’t Tell Today”
May 12 – F A N N A
Yes, you’ve read it right! This blog tour has giveawayS not just a giveaway. Enter below to enter and win a book or a shirt of With the Fire on High! You can enter not just on either but on 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.
Have you heard, read or pre-ordered With the Fire on High? What is your favorite diverse book of 2019 so far? Are you familiar with the author, Elizabeth Acevedo? What do you think about the cover design process and the BTS? Share your thoughts below!