On Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in the region.
In the wake of this incident, bright but lonely Hannah Dexter is befriended by Lacey Champlain, a dark-eyed, Cobain-worshiping bad influence in lip gloss and Doc Martens. The charismatic, seductive Lacey forges a fast, intimate bond with the impressionable Dex, making her over in her own image and unleashing a fierce defiance that neither girl expected. But as Lacey gradually lures Dex away from her safe life into a feverish spiral of obsession, rebellion, and ever greater risk, an unwelcome figure appears on the horizon—and Lacey’s secret history collides with Dex’s worst nightmare.
By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, set against the unsettled backdrop of a town gripped by moral panic, Girls on Fire is an unflinching and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls strong and weak, girls who burn bright and brighter—and some who flicker away.
Robin Wasserman is a graduate of Harvard University and the author of several successful novels for young adults. A recent recipient of a MacDowell fellowship, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Girls on Fire is her first novel for adults.
Girls on Fire 3.3 out of 5based on
4 months ago
Very well written and told. Must read for the Gen-X woman and highly recommended for women of all ages.
6 months ago
Gorgeous prose. Really good story. Amazing character development. Took me back to the 90s...in a good way.
More than 1 year ago
It is no wonder this book is so highly acclaimed by a variety of media sources. I can honestly imagine it becoming the next Girl on the Train, in its popularity among adult and later aged young adult readers. It is gritty, raw, honest and completely and utterly addicting. I honestly haven't read a book this hit so many 5* points in quite some time. It was truly one I could not bring myself to put down. From start to finish, the girls were in my head and I needed to know where everything in their young, grunge styled lives would lead, especially with the disconnect they had with most people, especially those there age.
Having been a youngster who had a similar disconnect, was bullied and had a regrettable home life, I found this book resonated with me on a whole new level. It reached right in and squeezed my heart, had me shaking my head and even brought laughter or a wee tear to my eye at points.
The characters are perfection. Wasserman got the girls lives, personalities and even clothing down to a T. It almost made me feel as if she knew them, was like them or at the very least did her in depth research to create whole, believeable people. This meant I was connected to them and invested in their outcome, from the very first page.
The pace was excellent. When something happened that needed a swiftness to it, to show the urgency of the outcome or the buildup, we were given it. Most of the time the pace matched their young, grunge life. It was laid back, just flowing by and happening, but when they took action it flew and it really sped right to the result. They we quick, excitable and wanted things to come to a head, and they did.
Overall, this book is dark. Be prepared. However, it is one that teenagers and above will love and need to read. It shows life from so many angles, for so many people, all at different places and stages in life. It has good lessons and is one that will truly touch you.
**I received this book for free and voluntarily provided my honest and unbiased review.
More than 1 year ago
Hannah is essentially a "good girl", if a bit of an outsider. Lacey is the "bad girl" in school, who seems to throw her indifference in the faces of all who would question her place in society. These two girls somehow find themselves thrown together into a severely co-dependent relationship (think Thelma and Louise hyped up on some of Cobain's "teen spirit"). Hannah lacks any self-identity and simply transforms into what people expect of her. Lacey christens her under the new name of "Dex" and recreates her into her own goth image.
Then you have Nikki, the privileged mean girl in school who everyone follows as if she were the pied piper of vicious teenagers. The school is sent into a bit of a spiral by the suicide of the school jock, who was Nikki's longtime boyfriend. The pair were high school royalty.
Then there are the parents. The ever-embarrassing parents who never seem to "get" their troubled teens. Dex comes from a normal home with parents who care, while Lacey comes from a screwed up home life with an overbearing step-father and an alcoholic and dispassionate mother.
The story switches between the perspectives of Dex and Lacey (Us), and occasionally that of the parents (Them). Sometimes switching perspectives like this can be difficult to follow, but the author really handled it well and it was a useful tool and quite enlightening. It is interesting to see an act through the eyes of one person, and then to see the same act through those of another person. What may have first seemed cruel or selfish or self-motivated could actually have been motivated by compassion or fear or even love. And even an act motivated by love can be evil or cruel.
My final word: This book is marketed as the author's first "adult novel", yet check Goodreads and you'll see the number one genre classification by readers is "young adult", and I have to agree with that. This book really took me back to my teen years. I could see a bit of myself in Dex and my friend in Lacey. There's a hard edge to the story and quite a bit of graphic sexuality and some violence, so it is not for the younger crowd. But it definitely fits into the young adult niche. I enjoyed the author's writing, which is very easy to read and engaging. The characters are well drawn and defined, and her technique with the ever-changing perspectives was expertly handled. There is a twist at one point that left me thinking, "Well, I did not see that coming!" Moments made me cringe, some made me angry, others made me ache for the individual. Overall this is one damn fine read!
More than 1 year ago
This book is painfully pointless. At times it is outright offensive. I only finished reading it because it was our book club selection. The fact that this book is trending on all of the summer reading lists is shocking.
More than 1 year ago
Like others have pointed out, this book definitely brings back some high school memories of the cliques and social statuses held in every high school, regardless of year or place. However, that being said, I felt the book went way off the rails. First off, it's like the author tried to take bits and pieces of the movie Mean Girls, mix in a little bit of the book Queen Bees, and then added some demonic horror to it all just for giggles. Teenagers can be dark and brooding but seriously this wasn't even believable on any level. And the ending just left me like SERIOUSLY???? This book wasn't worth purchasing.
More than 1 year ago
Girls on Fire is unique. I truly picked up the book with no idea what to expect. I read the synopsis’ but I do not read other reviews until I finish writing my own so I can make my own opinions. This is a story about a good girl being lead by a bad girl. This is also a story about how lives can change when friends come into your life and the influences that friend can have for you.
I wanted to be invested in the story. I tried. Yet, through the book I kept thinking where are the adults? The teachers, parents, police officers, or anyone else. These girls are running the town, staying out all night, causing trouble, and looking for trouble yet no adults seem to notice. I understood what was happening with Lacey. Her mom just didn’t care. But what about Hannah’s parents? Maybe I could not get past this because I have a teenager and a college student and I would notice if they were acting out as Hannah and Lacey were.
This may sound like I don’t like the book. I did. Girls on Fire is not a quick and easy read. It is slow and dark. I enjoyed the story, needed to keep reading, and had to finish. I am sure many will love this book, some will like it, and some will not like it. This is certainly not a book for everyone. I would recommend you pick up and form your own opinions. I certainly did.
More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars - Original review @ 125Pages.com
Oh dear god yes. This book brought back all of the angst of high school, toxic friendships, lies compounding lies, a social stratus that defines all and so much more. Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman is a book about teenagers that is not a YA in the best way. Dark and even sinister at points, it shows how deeply a person will go when they are truly obsessed with another.
The plot of Girls on Fire reminded me of the best of the dark parts of Heathers andJawbreaker with a smattering of Mean Girls thrown in. Hannah gets so wrapped up in the friendship of Lacey that she will literally change everything about her self including her name and the downward spiral is a delight in an almost perverse way. Robin Wasserman wrote a tale of friendship that surpasses the ordinary. She had a lyrical way of phrasing that made even the awful parts intriguing. The pacing had a few issues where I felt it jumped too much but it was quickly brought back down and did not detract from the read as a whole. The world built was rich and I got a great image of each of the scenes. There were plenty of emotions in the book, most of them very deep. This was such a nuanced ride, that even some of the scenery played a role. I loved the two main characters. They were each attempting to alter themselves in different ways and relied on the other to make them whole. I did not care for any of the parents, and one plot line with Hannah’s father was really not necessary and did detract from some of the overall story.
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman brought me back to my teen years where I had a friend very similar to Lacey. She ran the show and we were all her puppets; dressing like her, listening to the same bands, ganging up on whoever she declared not cool for the week. I read this book and it made me anxious and uncomfortable and I loved that. I always enjoy a book that takes me so out of my comfort zone and this one did it in a way that I really enjoyed.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
More than 1 year ago
This book did not hold my interest. I rea it because i wanted to se what all the hype was about...but it wa only semi onteresting afte the first 200 pages
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