Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a really intense novel about adolescent female friendship and how that relationship affects each teenager, their friends, families and their entire small town. There is nothing sweet or simple about this novel. It packs a punch from page one until the very last moment. There is a level of tension that permeates the novel – that makes you feel uncomfortable throughout the reading experience. There are so many things covered – friendship, alcohol/drug abuse, bullying, suicide, Satanism, and being a girl/woman. There are sections about parenting through adolescence that hit quite close to home as I’m struggling to raise my 12 year olds through this very volatile time.
The description of a friendship that almost borders on obsession felt very real and honest to me. Adolescent relationships can feel so very dramatic and intense in a way that can change your entire life. And this book did an excellent job of outlining that and making it feel real yet never contrived. That very feeling gave this novel something fresh and honest. I found myself bound up by the story and the characters in a way that felt very powerful to me. The overall tension plus great writing really served this one well.
I’ve seen a number of reviewers make reference to Megan Abbott and I can definitely understand the comparisons. However, I felt this one was much more impactful than most of the Abbott novels I’ve read. Both authors have a way with adolescent voice but this one just resonated a little more with me. Perhaps because it was set in a time that I related to as it took place in about the same time I was in high school/college? All in all, I really enjoyed it but it’s not for everyone. It’s definitely a dark and intense read.