Dominican author Elizabeth Acevedo’s bestselling novel, With the Fire on High, is coming to the big screen with company Picturestart acquiring the rights and Acevedo working on the adaptation, Deadline reports. This is major!
In an Instagram post, she wrote: “Your girl has been polishing her pen and working on a screenplay. I’m too hype to be partnering with @PictureStart to adapt WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH.” The book was released in May and is in its eleventh week on The New York Times‘ best-seller list.
With the First on High follows in the same footsteps as its predecessor, The Poet X, featuring a strong Afro-Latina heroine. Emoni Santiago is an Afro-Boricua teen mom in her final year of high school grappling with her sense of responsibility for her family and her desire to pursue her culinary dreams.
The novel explores Emoni’s relationship with her grandma and her baby daughter and how these bonds are empowering but also challenging for her. While learning to balance school, work, and family, she also develops a relationship with a classmate named Malachi, forcing her out of her comfort zone while also teaching her what a healthy relationship can look like. In the midst of these personal trials and tribulations she attempts to pursue her passion for the culinary arts and realizes that in order to live the life she hopes for, she needs to break free.
Elizabeth Acevedo deftly depicts what it’s like for contemporary women living in between two cultures and the complexities there are in so the fact that she’s writing the screenplay means the movie will do the story the justice. The film will undoubtedly also include delicious moments highlighting Emoni’s culinary skills and the Caribbean-inspired delicacies she concocts, shining a light on Puerto Rican food in a way hardly seen on the big screen.
The Dominican-American slam poet made history this year when she became the first woman of color to win the Carnegie Medal children’s book award for her bestselling novel The Poet X. The novel is about 15-year-old Xiomara Batista, an Afro-Dominican teen in Harlem growing up in a strict, religious household who finds her voice through slam poetry. The critically acclaimed debut work also won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Pura Belpré Award for a work that affirms the Latinx cultural experience.
Fans of Like Water for Chocolate, the famous Laura Esquivel novel-turned-film, can expect a similar portrayal of Latinx food and passion with a completely new and contemporary story that Acevedo is bringing to life for the film. It’ll also mean we can expect an Afro-Latina to lead the film making it a film with Latinx women at the helm.
“Emoni’s cooking is a place where she contemplates who she is and who she is from. It’s through food that she learns the stories of Puerto Rico and North Carolina, where her father and mother are from, respectively,” she previously told HipLatina. “Food seems like a natural extended metaphor to layer throughout the text because when we talk about cooking and meals we are also talking about love and nourishment, history and tradition, creativity and innovation. So, Emoni cooks traditional foods from her parents’ hometowns, but she gives them a twist. She brings herself to the plate.”
No word yet on the release date for the film, but it’s safe to say that we’re super excited for With the First on High.