This book was gifted to me by the publisher for an honest review.
I always think it's interesting to read what attracts someone to a book in the first place, but I find I never include it in my own reviews, so from now on I'm going to look at my reasons for reading it. I do think I have a strong sense of smell when it comes to a good book and it's very rare I let myself down.
When it came to With The Fire On High, it was firstly the cover that caught my eye. The vivid colours and the inclusion of fruits and herbs really add to the vibrancy. I felt my taste buds tingling just by looking at it. I also had a good feeling about this book as one of my colleagues had read The Poet X and loved it.
To say I adored this book would be an understatement, it simply is beautiful. From the first pages, I was caught up in Emoni's world and felt like offering to pay for food or maybe giving her a few hours baby sitting, just to help her get by. Emoni (half black, half Puerto Rican) is one tough cookie, who after getting pregnant at a really young age, is now wise beyond her years. She doesn't take any nonsense from anyone. Even though she may be a young mum, she knows exactly what she wants in life for her and her daughter. She's had to work hard to juggle all her hardships and make ends meet, but she is managing, thanks to the help of 'Buela, her grandmother, who raised her. She hasn't got time for romance in her life, so she is resistant to the charms of Malachi, but sometimes in life, people can be hard to resist.
I felt this book really presents teenage mums positively. Emoni isn't about to give up on her dreams just because she is a mum. Nope, she runs with her dreams, balancing her daughter on her hip.
All Emoni wants to do is cook and she is a master at it already. When she follows her intuitions and adjusts recipes, she evokes memories in people that either makes them laugh or cry.
The short chapters really complement the story, making it easy to devour quickly. They are interspersed with recipes that make your mouth water. Every time Emoni tried a recipe, I found myself reaching for the fridge for a snack. I must have gained at least seven pounds while reading this book. It reminded me of The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.
This book is like a recipe in itself - with a pinch of magical realism, a hint of romance, a spoonful of sassiness and a heap of hardship, you get a whole lot of book that you'll want to read again and again.
I really hope the author ventures back into the world of magical realism in future novels, as she obviously has a talent for it.