High Praise for With the Fire on High

with the fire on highWhat do you get when you blend a fantastic main character with a pinch of romance, a large dollop of friendship and a huge helping of family? A lovely contemporary- that’s what!

One of the very best things about this story was the strength of the characterisation. Emoni, the protagonist, is remarkably realistic and complex. I really respected that this had the bravery to include the topic of teen motherhood- especially as, when I thought about it, I realised I couldn’t think of a single other book like it. Most books about teen pregnancy just end when the baby is born- yet this shows that becoming a mother is only the beginning of the story. Emoni doesn’t divide herself into being a mother or a teen- she is both and she is true to that.

Above all, this is still a coming of age story- even if it may not be the kind we are used to reading. It was stirring to see Emoni trying to make the best of herself through her cooking. I really liked that this showed her growing in her talent and rising to fresh challenges.

I was also frequently intoxicated by some of the beautiful writing- here’s just a taster: “where we come from leaves its fingerprints all over us”. I will admit, there were a few clichés sprinkled in as well- like “I released the breath I didn’t know I was holding” (twice)- which didn’t bother me, though I know it may get to other readers. I was too busy gorging myself on the otherwise delectable writing to care. Plus, there were little treats along the way, like the recipes included at the start of each part. Each one was carefully crafted and made me smile.

The sweetest part of the book was the friendship and family dynamics. I found the sisterhood/female friendship element lovely to see. And the family, while not without its flaws, was well done. For me personally, the romance added a little spice… but not too much! Some have said in reviews that it was unnecessary- but I disagree. It’s a cleansing aspect to the story, showing that Emoni is free to feel again and welcome new love into her heart. Also, it didn’t hurt that it packed a little heat 😉

We don’t get a straight up happily ever after: it’s a little bittersweet. Yet, I felt this was the ending that was earned. Life isn’t always a fairy tale- it’s about taking the sweet with the sour. I liked that this focused on character growth and didn’t leave us on a false sugary note. This is truly a slice of life and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I’ll definitely want more helpings from this author!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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So, have you read this book or any others by the author? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!