Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper (May 17, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 4/10
Reading Sara Review: Girls on Fire was my second selection from my Summer 2016 Reading List. I am hoping the third time is the charm for my next read because neither Girls on Fire or Eligible hit the mark that I was hoping for when I devour books during the summer.
In general, I like weird books. Unfortunately, Girls on Fire was weird in a way that did not resonate with me. This book has been hyped on nearly every book resource that I trust – my favorite blogs, NPR, every other “to be read this summer list.”
Girls on Fire is sort of about friendship and a little bit about coming of age. The friendship piece is dark, but in some ways was the most real part of this story. Hannah Dexter is a teenage loner in her small town. She does not have friends, is not fashionable, and spends all of her evenings with her parents. All of a sudden she sparks a friendship with Lacey, a newcomer to their small Pennsylvania town. For teenagers, Lacey has seen and done more than Hannah has even dreamed of doing. Because of this, and mainly due to her loneliness, Hannah is infatuated with Lacey. She is willing to become a different person and follow Lacey to the ends of the earth to be accepted. This all-consuming friendship and captivation of someone else can make for a great story. Unfortunately, in Girls on Fire, all of that is confused with satanic rituals, drugs, an unconventional romance, and yes, a murder or two.
The story was told in a unique way – alternating viewpoints from mostly Hannah and Lacey describing current events or filling in the backstory. I believe that a few other narrators took over at various points (clearly it was not incredibly memorable if I can’t remember right now). Either way, this tie-in led to some mystery that made me keep reading and not just give up the book because it was too weird.
This was not the worst book I have read this year, but I can’t recommend it. I am so surprised by the acclaim of other reviewers – because I had to push myself to finish it. And the ending was utterly disappointing – instead of finding herself, her voice and her way – Hannah is completely enveloped into Lacey’s world never to return.
Again, I like weird books – I don’t even mind dark books. But I felt like the story was trying too hard. Hannah’s parent’s relationship might have been the only truly honest thing that was told.
So, read at your own risk – seriously, other people loved it. If you loved it, please let me know so I can hear what I missed!