Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

About this book…

This is not a cautionary tale about too much – or the wrong kind – of fucking. This is not a story of bad things happening to bad girls. I say this because I know you, Dex, and I know how you think. I’m going to tell you a story, and this time, it will be the truth.

Hannah Dexter is a nobody, ridiculed at school by golden girl Nikki Drummond and bored at home. But in their junior year of high school, Nikki’s boyfriend walks into the woods and shoots himself. In the wake of the suicide, Hannah finds herself befriending new girl Lacey and soon the pair are inseparable, bonded by their shared hatred of Nikki. Lacey transforms good girl Hannah into Dex, a Doc Marten and Kurt Cobain fan, who is up for any challenge Lacey throws at her. The two girls bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything . . .

My review…

Whoa this made for some very uncomfortable reading! A very dark and sometimes distressing book that every mum of teenage girls should read- your teenagers antics won’t seem so bad after reading this! As one who struggled with those difficult teenage years both as a mum and as a teenage girl myself, I totally got where this book was coming from. Teenage girls can be so intense, especially when it comes to relationships and with the viciousness that it can create when things go wrong. It can lead to a fallout that affects all those they are close to…

This is the story of Hannah (Dex) and Lacey and how the coming together of their two personalities can be like mixing 2 chemicals-on their own they are safe but mixed together and they becomes explosive and unstable. Hannah is the good girl with a supportive family life while Lacey is the bad girl obsessed by Kurt Cobain. It is told from both girls point of view with the occasional insight into their families perspective as well.

This was an unsettling read, containing sexual scenes sometimes of a violent nature, that really got right inside the heads of two disturbed teenage girls. The themes of sexual awakening along with a side of religious conflict seemed well suited to its setting of small town suburbia in the nineties. It was hard hitting, gripping to read but in an uncomfortable way as you were preparing yourself for that moment you knew was coming, the explosive finale. You know from the start that there has been a suicide of a young man in the woods. As he was the boyfriend of the local “mean girl” Nikki, we also know there could be a connection especially as she appears to be a joint projection of hated for Lacey and Dex. When that moment came, even though I knew that something dark and disturbing was going to happen, it was was still a shock!

This book has taken me a few days to review. Once I finished it I felt a bit grubby as if I had been a voyeur, watching the girls from a distance while they carried out their relationship. It was probably my maternal instincts kicking in and I had that awful feeling of not being able to stop something that had been inevitable from the day that girls had first met. It was a weird feeling I have to admit and although I can’t say I loved the book, it inspired such a strong emotion in me that I have to admire that! The world of the teenage girl (with all its rush of hormones, social hierarchy and general nastiness at times!) is well explored here showing how the choices you make, when you come to that crossroads, can have a lasting affect for many years to come.

At times I found Girls on Fire a bit of a slow burner and sometimes I also had to flick back to see if Hannah or Lacey were narrating as they had such a similar voice but this just added to that feeling of two different perspectives becoming one. A true coming of age drama with a dark twist.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review.

Publication date 5th May 2016

Available to buy at Amazon

 

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jorobertson2015

I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

6 thoughts on “Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman”

  1. Whoa, it does sound very dark! Yep, those teenage years are pretty intense – it’s surprising most of us make it through them as well as we do, really.

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  2. I both like and dislike the sound of this if that makes sense? Not sure it’s one for me though agree it takes something to get that type of response from you as a reader.

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    1. I’m glad you said that Emma because that’s exactly what I felt while reading it so glad it came through on my review. One of those books you know you should read but also know you probably won’t like it! So its true that it may not be for you 😊

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