Who by Fire: A Novel

Who by Fire: A Novel

by Diana Spechler
3.4 15

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Overview

Who by Fire: A Novel by Diana Spechler

Bits and Ash were children when the kidnapping of their younger sister, Alena—an incident for which Ash blames himself—caused an irreparable family rift. Thirteen years later, Ash is living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel, cutting himself off from his mother, Ellie, and his wild-child sister, Bits. But soon he may have to face them again; Alena's remains have finally been uncovered. Now Bits is traveling across the world in a bold and desperate attempt to bring her brother home and salvage what's left of their family.

Sharp and captivating, Who by Fire deftly explores what happens when people try to rescue one another.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061982347
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/06/2009
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
File size: 779 KB

About the Author

Diana Spechler received her MFA from the University of Montana and was a Steinbeck Fellow at San José State University from 2004 to 2005. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, Moment, Lilith, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Who by Fire 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Malkie More than 1 year ago
What a journey! This book had me by chapter one and didn¿t let go. I literally finished it in a day. It is not a happy, quirky, fluffy story. It is real, gritty, and at times disturbing. I know these characters, I recognize them in my friends, family, and in myself. This book will draw you in and make you really think, change allegiances, and leave you off with a new perspective.
SusanIL More than 1 year ago
The story was novel, engaging and the writing style crisp and sharp. Spechler's use of three separate characters who view and live thru the same life experience but from different points of view is extremely effective -- similar to Barbara Kingslover's Poisonwood Bible, and offers us as readers the opportunity to make our judgement as to what is "true". Be warned -- you will want to keep reading thru to the end so prepare to spend a few hours!
lrubi More than 1 year ago
What a gem! Spechler's debut novel addresses complicated issues including religion, guilt and family tragedy with style, grace, and unique prose that is highly addictive. Her vivid character development and alternating narrative voice forces the reader to form an intense love/hate relationship with each character. Impossible to put down, yet worthy of being savored, Spechler is a refreshing reprieve from other young female authors today. Who By Fire is the best book I have read in ages, and I look forward to seeing what's to come from this immensely talented new author.
recreational-reader More than 1 year ago
I liked and disliked this book all at once. I like the story line but did not like that there was no resolution with a main part of the story. The book is more of an emotional journey than an actual story. I think the characters had character traits that were very dislikable but I did find myself understanding them- I don't necessarily agree with the choices that author had them make- like having sex at 10 (Bits), self-imposed isolation (Ash), and constant nagging (Mom). Additionally, I had a really hard time understanding the language of Judaism. This book was so steeped in tradition and language heavy, it was often hard to understand the words in context. I am not Jewish and have little background knowledge, which made this a hard read. At first I would reread, but by the middle of the book I found myself skimming areas that had religious information. To me, it just was not essential to the storyline. While appreciate the author's desire to include religion as part of the foundation of the story, this should be title religious fiction. I am not raving about this book but I would say if you have an understanding (or want to explore) Judaism this would be a good read..
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Gigglekiss More than 1 year ago
Throughout the book, the author constantly shifts the point of view between a mother and her two children, Bits and Ash. I found it a little "game" almost to figure out the perspective at the beginning of each scene. I know very little about Orthodox Judaism, or Judaism at all for that matter, so I feel like a side benefit of reading this book was that I became educated on some different Jewish holidays, traditions, phrases, etc. I found myself googling a bit as I read. The plot of this novel is very slow, however- it's more of an emotional exploration than much of a story. Although Spechler developed her quirky characters well, I didn't find any of them very likeable or redeeming, which I enjoy in the books I get to read in my quite limited spare time as a teacher and mother of a one year old. Great title, by the way, and I like the way it ties into the book.
JoEllyn Steele More than 1 year ago
Kept my attention for the most part but very predictable and not much depth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bleeding_espresso More than 1 year ago
Who by Fire tells the story of Ash and Bits, a brother and sister whose younger sister Alena had been kidnapped more than a decade ago. When their mother informs them that her remains have finally been discovered, it's up to wild child Bits to go to Israel and convince her now Orthodox Jew brother to come home for a memorial service-no easy feat as he's been out of touch with the family since entering the yeshiva. The book is told from shifting perspectives, really getting into the minds of the various characters. I'm no expert on Orthodox Judaism, so I can't comment on how accurate the scenes in Israel might be, but I do know that I couldn't put this book down. None of the characters are particularly lovable, at least not for me, but that didn't stop me from devouring this book-I believe it's called the train wreck syndrome. What I mean is that each character is a bit (or a lot) of a mess-the book itself is far from a train wreck. Indeed, it's fabulous. The plotting, pacing, and writing all shine; I particularly love Spechler's conversational, down-to-earth writing style, which you might not expect in a book with such deep subject matter. Spechler shows that humor has a place everywhere, even when dealing with heavy topics, and this is something that I firmly believe as well. I give this books five espresso cups out of five. I simply couldn't stop reading, and as I wrote to Diana after I finished, I then found myself imagining what happened to the main characters-the true sign of a great book. ~Michelle Fabio bleedingespresso.com
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutely could not put it down. Can't wait to see more by this talented new author.
darlaa More than 1 year ago
This book quickly sucked me in. It was so unpredictable and I just LOVED it. I would definitely recommend this great novel.