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Virtual Book Club – January Pick – With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Join us for a book discussion on With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, on Thursday, January 20th, 2022, at 5:30 pm. Acevedo’s multi-award winning book is about Afro-Latinx high school senior Emoni, who is a young single mom being raised by her grandmother while raising her own daughter. She has a gift for cooking, and her food, like magic, conjures emotions in people she shares it with. The news of a culinary arts course with a possible trip to Spain grabs her interest, but how will she juggle school, work, and being a mother? You can register for this discussion here. Check out this title with your library card from the catalog, Libby (eBook and eAudiobook) or Hoopla (eBook and eAudiobook). 

The New York Times says that “The narrative of With the Fire on High is a common, shared one—the story of a multifaceted, brilliant brown woman who will not be victimized by other people’s projections of shame on black and brown young mothers—but Acevedo elevates it in a way that feels new.” You can read more in “Elizabeth Acevedo’s New Novel is Literary Soul Food,” by Joshunda Sanders.  

Another review by NPR describes With the Fire on High as “boldly and gloriously subversive.”  

Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Dominican poet, performer, and author. Besides With the Fire on High, her novels include Clap When You Land and The Poet X, which was a New York Times bestseller and winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC. Read more about how Acevedo’s opinion that “people read like they eat” in this short New York Times profile, and more about her views and experiences with poetry and teaching in this in-depth interview in Teachers & Writers Magazine. 

Readalike Suggestions 

These titles, like With the Fire on High, tackle themes of food and family, and the conflicts that arise between the two (especially if the questions of how to follow your dreams is involved). 

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala, 2021  

A mystery filled with delicious descriptions of the food served at Tita Rosie’s Kitchen, a Filipino restaurant in Shady Palms, Illinois. It is to here that Lila Macapagal has retreated from a bad breakup in Chicago. When her food critic ex comes there and dies at the dinner table, Lila has to solve the case and save her family’s reputation. This title is available for checkout in print, as an eAudiobook on OverDrive/Libby, and an eBook on OverDrive/Libby. 

The Chicken Sisters by K.J. Dell’Antonia, 2020 

A century long family feud between fried chicken restaurants gets thrust into the national spotlight when Amanda defects to the rival restaurant in the name of love and then recruits her sister to compete against her on reality TV show Food Wars. Recipes and family ties get tested along the way. This title is available for checkout in print, as an eAudiobook on OverDrive/Libby, and as an eBook on OverDrive/Libby. 

The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta, 2021 

Syd is brokenhearted, which would normally not affect their job as a baker at The Proud Muffin. However, Syd is also magical, and their brownies wreak havoc on the queer community in Austin when whoever eats them breaks up with their romantic partner! This title is available for checkout in print and as an eBook on OverDrive/Libby. 

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li, 2018 

Centered on fictional Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, this is a darkly humorous multigenerational story about the Han family, who have kept the business running for decades. Now, when tragedy strikes, the family has to confront their individual circumstances and decide how they can support each other. This title is available for checkout in print, as an eAudiobook on Hoopla, an eBook on OverDrive/Libby, and as an eAudiobook on OverDrive/Libby. 

The Sol Majestic by Ferrett Steinmetz, 2019 

Kenna wants to be a guru to the richest of the rich in the galaxy. What better place to find them than at The Sol Majestic, the hottest restaurant in the cosmos? However, his luck at winning a free dinner there inadvertently puts the restaurant in danger, forcing Kenna to rethink his goals and ideals, and find new friends to help fix his mistake. This title is available for checkout in print, as an eAudiobook on OverDrive/Libby, and as an eAudiobook on Hoopla. 

Still hungry for readalikes? Here’s a staff pick focusing on teen fiction for foodies.

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