Skip to main content

Book Review: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Dear Kim,

I considered posting the text that I sent you this past weekend about Girls on Fire, but I thought better of exposing our readers to the amount of expletives used. Instead I will share a censored version:




Robin Wasserman's masterpiece is a dark and twisty tale, too believable to be anything but young adult horror. Set in Battle Creek, Pennsylvania in 1991, a fitting town for Wasserman's many battles: high school reverence, best-of-friend manipulations, sexuality, and the battle to be just a girl in the world. 





Kurt Cobain (not Gwen) plays the soundtrack to this novel. His songs hang like storm clouds around the girls-- all devastation, destruction, and angst. 


Hannah Dexter seeks something more out of life. Then Hannah meets Lacey Champlain who is equal parts seductress and best friend. Lacey pulls Hannah (now Dex, per Lacey's order) into the fierce and violent fold of high school girlhood. 

The story opens (and spoiler-ish, ends) with a suicide. A boy took his life in the woods. Like most of the boys in the book, Craig means little to Lacey and Dex. But, the girlfriend he left behind, Nikki, means everything. 
Fear of Satanic cults permeate the town. Those fears are well founded, but the devil those parents know is no match for the girls in Battle Creek. 


From "Before Lacey", pages 6-7, GIRLS ON FIRE


Female relationships are beasts to write well, due to equal parts love and hate/ endure and surrender/ obsession and abandon. Wasserman captures the tightrope that is girl friendship. She does so without adult voice or sweet reminiscence of girlhood, two things that have no place in this type of book. Her world-- the hierarchy and battle of Battle Creek, Pennsylvania-- is honest and terrifying. 


Slide back in time, when grunge was king, and meet the girls of Battle Creek, Pennsylvania. They will scare the flannel off your back, but you will love them all the same.

Kim, you must read Robin Wasserman's Girls on FireThe book hit every note for me: rich language, layered characters, and a complex plot. While you are at it, check out Wasserman's article on LitHub about GIRLS in fiction. Which, like Girls on Fire, is too good to miss.

With love,
Alison



Popular posts from this blog

The Querying Writer: Part II

Dear Kim,


Remember that letter I sent you way back in October? (You remember October-- back when all things seemed possible.) 





The letter, COMP TITLES and THE QUERYING WRITER, shared details from our Novel Nuts & Bolts class with Empire Literary Agent Carrie Howland. (I may have referred to her as "agent-extraordinaire" in another post.)

Though today's post will be my third about Carrie, it is titled "Part II" because my querying journey seems sequel worthy.







I started looking for an agent soon after you and I met at the NYC SCBWI conference in 2012. I had nice feedback from an agent at a conference and sent him my work. His response was kind (which I've found most responses from agents to be.) But my writing wasn’t ready. The novel he saw was the first I’d ever finished. I wasn't ready.

I swallowed that little voice that said, SEND! SEND! SEND! for two more years until I entered #PitchWars-- Brenda Drake’s crash course in pitching. In the years between t…

School Visit Recap: Assemblies to Workshops, and the CONVERSATIONS in between

Dear Kim (and friends),

This morning I put away my rainbow superhero mask, gold top hat, and banana-on-a-stick. Few things are sadder than closing your banana-on-a-stick into a dark closet. But, I guess it will rise again next month for my next school visit.

Oh, you thought my collection was somehow Halloween related? No, no. Just part of the workshop portion of my school visits. For the past two weeks I had the privilege of speaking to, and then with, students from one of our nearby districts.



Dwight Smith, the founder of My Special Word, joined me for the assembly portion of the event. We were able to share with the children Dwight's vision for the program, as well as my process for writing the books for him.

There was music. Lots of it.
Some singing. (Would you expect any less?)
And shouting! (Mostly the kids, but I got a few words in too.)



We met with over 800 kids during the assemblies and got a sense for how the school district planned to use My Special Word. I'll say,
w…

BOOK REVIEW: Starr Fall & BOOK RELEASE: Once & Forever

Dear Alison,

Goodbye January, Hello February! Last week, I let everyone peak in my drawers.  Today, I'm opening my inbox. Well, not literally. You DO NOT want to see my inbox--though I do try to keep all the accounts very tidy--sometimes the emails get a bit, what's the word I'm looking for? Expansive. My favorite emails are from fans. I LOVE them. They make me all warm and fuzzy. Seriously, touch my arm...

See? Warm and Fuzzy. Oh, wait those are my doggies;)

While, I ADORE the fan mail (I DO, I REALLY DO) I would LOVE them even more if they were added as a review to AMAZON and GOODREADS. For instance, look at some of these reviews:


Must Read!!!, January 31, 2017 By  Kelly

This review is from: Starr Fall: Book One of the Starr Fall Series (Kindle Edition) Purchased this book for my 14 year old daughter who is NOT a fan of reading for pleasure or at all for that matter. Well, the book immediately grabbed her attention. In her words..."I can't put this book down. I ne…