YES, I still read young adult fiction at 25! I know some people may find that lame, but honestly, I’ll read anything published. During my teens, authors Dana Davidson, Sharon M. Draper and Walter Dean Myers got me through. Recently, I’ve added the following young adult authors to my list of favorites: Angie Thomas, Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, Kwame Alexander and Tiffany Jackson. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting a few of them at Maplewood High School’s Project LIT Summit.
You should note that I don’t judge books by their covers. I rely on titles. However, this next one threw me for a loop when its title didn’t give me what I expected, and not in a bad way, either. I thought it was going to be a high school drama type of book. Oh boy, was I WRONG!
In “With the Fire On High” by Elizabeth Acevedo, the main character is Emoni Santiago, a bi-racial, teenaged mother who has a passion for cooking. She takes old family recipes and puts her own spin on them. When eaten, her dishes transport people to their fondest memories. Mind you, she’s only a high school senior “burning” like so!
It isn’t until her high school offers a culinary course when Santiago is granted an opportunity to travel abroad and study under professional chefs. After years of conditioning her mind to what is practical versus allowing herself to dream, she undergoes mentality shifts in order to pursue her aspiration of becoming a chef. It is not an easy task for her but she manages to resume her confidence in her capabilities and goes for it. The second she chooses to invest in herself by taking the culinary course and traveling abroad, her life changes for the better.
It feels good to be reminded to keep dreaming. Sometimes, all it takes is for one thing to work out in your favor. That one thing can be an opportunity you planned to pass up out of doubt. We’ve all been there in our minds before, prioritizing bills and survival over dream chasing. But at some point, if what you want is out of reach, you have to sow seeds to manifest your dream into a reality.
No matter your age, this book will renew the right spirit within you of trusting and believing in a higher plan and purpose over your life. If for no other reason, I still love reading young adult fiction for the simplicity that still exists in explaining the most complex issues life affords us in adulthood that we can no longer explain in simple terms. I’d suggest you break from the heavy autobiographies and pickup this one for laughs and simple one-liners you can still use to date. Below are my favorite lines from the book:
Quotes from the Book
“You’re the author of your own life story” (Acevedo 18).
“And sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can’t” (Acevedo 28).
“The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely chooses the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance” (Acevedo 60).
“I don’t reduce, homies. The whole of me is Black. The whole of me is whole” (Acevedo 70).
“Where we come from leaves its fingerprints all over us, and if you know how to read the signs of a place, you know a little bit more who someone is” (Acevedo 87).
“I look out the window at the clouds parting in the same way my bad mood is, sunlight peeking through both, and I know for a fact there’s more than one kind of magic in this world” (Acevedo 236).
“I don’t know what I am going to be, or who I am not; my own desires are thickly layered like the food on my plate, but I know that one day soon I’ll be a grown-ass woman. So, I let myself enjoy the meal, the moment and my own company” (Acevedo 274).
“We look beautiful and hood and excited to see the world, and none of us are hiding from this world seeing us. All of us shining despite what it took us to earn our way here” (Acevedo 278).
“And I tell myself the same thing: forward is the only direction to go in, turning back around is for the birds” (Acevedo 372).
“It’s infused with the people I come from. But it’s also a way for me to look forward: to watch the recipes that from my roots transform, grow, and feed the hungriest places inside of me” (Acevedo 382).
“And like a map I’ve been following without knowing the exact destination, I know now I’ve been equipping myself with tools from the journey to help me survive when I arrive” (Acevedo 382).
Until next time, go read!
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Remember “What Am I Reading?” is devoted to literacy awareness. Encourage others to read. The world depends on it! Share what you’re reading with me in the comments below or tag me in your current reads on my socials @UrbanThreads615 everywhere. Let’s finish 2019 strong by reading.
*If you need help learning to read, visit Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC). They love teaching literacy. For more information, visit their homepage or office at Nashville Adult Literacy Council.*