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Girls on Fire: A Novel

Girls on Fire: A Novel


Girls on Fire: A Novel

evaluări:
3.5/5 (20 evaluări)
Lungime:
11 hours
Lansat:
May 17, 2016
ISBN:
9780062470270
Format:
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Descriere

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.

Lansat:
May 17, 2016
ISBN:
9780062470270
Format:
Carte audio

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Despre autor

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.


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3.5
20 evaluări / 17 Recenzii
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  • (3/5)
    Another book from the long, long ToB. I again chose this as it was availabe at the library overdrive as audio. I agree that this book caught that something that teenage girls go through but it way too far into dark and too much pornography. By the time it ended, you just want it to be over. This is labeled young adult but I wouldn't want my young person reading this book, there is lots of swearing, gutter talk, sexual content and plain bad behavior. Inexcusable bad behavior. The book uses different POV. The setting is the early 90s, Goth, grudge. I could have been the mother of these girls.
  • (2/5)
    Read from May 24 to 31, 2016I just don't know. More thoughts later.I still don't know about this one. It's the first time I thought a book needed a huge TRIGGER WARNING on it. From some of the early buzz I read, I thought there'd be more love of the '90s. I wasn't expecting it to be so graphic and violent. There were aspects that made me cringe while reading. I felt for Hannah Dexter. I could relate to her lonely existence. At some point every teenager feels like that, right? Heck, I even felt that way through most of college. But the ending...what to say about that ending? It was disappointing even though unavoidable. Other reviewers have suggested that fans of Megan Abbott will love this and I agree. Had I seen those comparisons to Dare Me previously I would have skipped this one (I gave that one a two star review). They've also mentioned earlier Gillian Flynn works...again, I would have paused a little longer before picking this one up. If only I read reviews (or even book jackets) before reading a book!Because I can't quite get rid of the icky feeling I got with this one, it's getting a whopping 2 stars. It's right for some readers, but ultimately not my thing.
  • (4/5)
    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!
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    Wow. I was a teenager in the 1990's, and this book -- especially the first half -- made me so nostalgic for those years. I identified with the girls in this novel, and I really believe Wasserman captured what it meant to be confused and awkward and unsure and on fire.
  • (3/5)
    Eh. The book started out pretty promisingly, all smalltown mean girls-y punk rock outcast noir, but got progressively more heavy-handed to the point where what should have been the big climactic reveal just made me feel kind of weary.
  • (4/5)
    The book says that the author has written YA novels but this is the first book geared towards adults. I am not sure why this is an adult book outside of the language and a few select incidents. The subject matter was for me at least very YA. The story is essentially about the interaction between three girls: Lacey, Hannah/Dex, and Nikki.Lacey is the neglected, wild child, sexually experienced, rebel. You could also add whore.Hannah/Dex is the requisite, easily influenced mousey teenager who falls under Lacey's influence.Nikki is the requisite female teen bitch, ultra popular, narcissist.The story definitely has a few twists, the girls all behave deplorably for some, most, or all of the book. But I kept thinking haven't other authors covered this territory already? I mean ok I am a 50+ male but this seemed to be teen porn and I felt like an outsider looking in. Do all isolated small town girls experiment with lesbian sex, anal sex and drinking and drugging out of boredom? There are a few side stories around the clueless parents of each of these girls, and there is the usual slams against religion and conservatives, ( not surprising as the author graduated from the temple of elitism Harvard) but the situations, dialogue, and views and beliefs of Lacey and Hannah/Dex, are constantly repeated, to the point of ridiculousness.The problems I had with the book were:1. There seems to be a trend among young female authors to go out of their way to prove they can write just as raunchy as a man. Sadly oftentimes the result reads like the "letters" to Penthouse magazine in the 80's.2. Why did this story take place in 1992? Was it so Nirvana and Kurt Cobain could play such a pivotal role? Did Nirvana play a pivotal role for the author. Because for me it just reminded me of how awful the whole grunge music movement was. Plaid, heroin, no makeup, depressing music, is not what life is for most people.3. The death of Craig (Nikki's boyfriend) when it is finally revealed at the end of the book, and what happens to Nikki, is not only grossly implausible, but it shows a lack of caring about the reader, and comes off as lazy on the part of the author. Without giving anything away, a Barney Fife level of competence by the police or medical examiner, would have shown that this was impossible to have happened the way the author describes it.I am waiting for the time when female authors quit trying to 1. Over shock their readers.2. Write the next Gone Girl.3. Can develop a story and or characters the reader will care about.I gave the book 4 stars because for a summer book it was entertaining, and the author can clearly write, I just hope her next adult attempt will actually be about adults, and not a YA book trashed up to get an R rating.
  • (4/5)
    Hannah Dexter has led a fairly mundane life in the small town of Battle Creek, where everyone knows everyone else and everything that happens to everyone. But her life is turned upside town by two events: the suicide of a local boy, Craig, and the arrival of a new girl, Lacey, who quickly becomes the town's resident bad girl. Hannah and Lacey unite over their hatred of the town's "it girl" Nikki Drummond. Lacey transforms Hannah into Dex--a darker version of Hannah--who adores Lacey and Kurt Cobain's music (this is the early '90s after all). But Hannah doesn't realize that Lacey is hiding a secret from her, a pretty big one, which threatens to destroy the very fabric their friendship is based on.

    "Girls on Fire" is an oddly captivating and compelling novel. The story unfolds before you and you're powerless to stop the events as they occur. It's told mainly from the alternating points of view of Lacey and Hannah, and we slowly learn about the events that led to their friendship and its aftermath-- and also Craig's suicide. The book wasn't a particularly fast read for me, but it was fascinating. It's an accident where you can't look away, even though you know something horrible will happen. This book is dark and disastrous and makes you afraid to ever send your children off to high school.

    Parts of the novel are a bit cliched (it's almost too dark, too awful) but it doesn't stop it from being intriguing and captivating. It pulls you in to Lacey and Hannah's world and as time somehow moves forward, yet we learn about what happened to Craig in the past, Wasserman does an amazing job of unfurling her plot. I was drawn to the book and the characters. Tragic Lacey, confused Hannah, evil queen Nikki: you can see them so clearly in your head. The book almost casts a spell over you as it sucks you into its world. The writing is intense, the storyline is intense, and you're left almost breathless at the end. I didn't really enjoy the book, per se, but I appreciated it. It's a wild ride, a dark one, and definitely one worth taking.

    I received an advanced copy of this novel from Edelweiss (thank you!); it is available everywhere on 5/17/2016.

  • (3/5)
    Hannah Dexter was considered a normal, albeit quiet and somewhat isolated, teenager. She went to school, studied, and avoided any attention or trouble. All that changed when she was befriended by the "new" girl, Lacey Champlain. The story of their friendship and devotion are revealed in Girls On Fire by Robin Wasserman.Hannah Dexter quickly goes from being the invisible kid in school to Lacey's mini-me sidekick Dex, wearing Doc Martens and flannel shirts, listening to grunge rock, and taking on the resident mean-girl and queen bee, Nikki Drummond. Dex and Lacey want to escape small town life and go about it in all the wrong ways (think of an evil and darkly twisted younger version of Thelma and Louise). Their friendship spirals from being supportive to a level of devotion that is unsettling. Although the main characters of Girls on Fire are teenagers and the story does contain a certain amount of teenage angst and drama, this is anything but a young adult novel. Ms. Wasserman introduces a host of dark and evil behaviors such as Satanism and rape. The language is coarse and filled with profanity. The action takes place in a small town in Pennsylvania during the earlier 1990s. Girls on Fire is not an easy read (or at least it wasn't for this reader), primarily because of the dark nature of the two primary characters as well as the profanity and violence. (Yes, my inner prude raised its head several times and I had to set the book aside just to regain my equilibrium.) I think that this is going to be a book that people either love or hate (not hate the writing but hate the dark side that is revealed in the book). I didn't like the characters or even where the story went, but I appreciate the talent of Ms. Wasserman to pull me into a story that I constantly wanted to turn away from. Girls on Fire is not for the faint of heart but it is a read that you won't soon forget.
  • (4/5)
    Hannah Dexter was just a bland girl going through the motions until Craig decided to kill himself and through their small town into chaos. After feeling the burn of humiliation at the hands of Craig's love Nikki Drummond, she bonds with fiery newcomer Lacey and they become inseparable. Lacey dubs Hannah Dex, giving rise to a persona who cares about music, experiencing life, rejecting the norm, and Lacey's approval. Dex is suddenly somebody, but is it the person she wants to be or the person Lacey wants her to be? Lacey is pretty clearly hiding something and won't share with her best friend no matter how close they get. Her secret threatens to destroy their relationship and their small town.Girls on Fire is an intense read that takes place in the early 90's featuring teenage girls in the most dramatic point in their lives. Everything is about surviving the horrific landscape of high school where one wrong move can destroy you. While I like aspects of these girls, each of them is so steeped in manipulating others and projecting a socially appropriate or a socially disastrous image that they become desperate and willing to do terrible things. Hannah is pretty bland and fine with doing well in school, but then Lacey turns her life upside down. Lacey introduces her to drugs, parties, Nirvana, and not caring what others think of her. Lacey's approval means everything to Hannah and she will do anything to keep it. Lacey has her own issues and secrets. Her whole persona is designed to be rebellious. Hannah makes her feel powerful because Lacey molded her new persona and manipulates her when it suits her. To Lacey, she's being benevolent and protecting her, but it's clear she just wants to control something in her life when she controls nothing. Her home life is horrible with an alcoholic mother and a controlling, religious stepfather. Nikki Drummond, on the other hand, is the golden girl externally, but the queen bee mean girl underneath. She can manipulate anyone to do exactly whatever evil move she wants and come out looking like a paragon. All of them choose to be cruel to each other and all of them come out with scars they try to hide from the others.The format of the book is interesting. The "Us" sections are Lacey and Hannah's alternating points of view. The "Them" sections show other people's point of view like Hannah's, Lacey's, and Nikki's mothers. It shows that absolutely everyone has inner depths beneath what they project to the world no matter what their age or experience. We see their true selves and their inner thoughts. Everyone tempers themselves to fit in to whatever society they are a part of. Every character has something to relate to and thoughts and feelings they would never share with anyone else. At first I thought it should have been a teen book, but the violence, the sex, the grey morality, and the honest and multilayered depiction of each character is much more adult.Girls on Fire is a magnetic read that I couldn't put down. Robin Wasserman's amazing writing crafted a complex story that was masterfully revealed through multiple points of view. Craig's suicide story loomed in the background of the entire narrative until all is revealed in the final pages. The only flaw I found was the ending. I just didn't quite believe it, but it had an interesting symmetry with the rest of the plot. I look forward to the next book Robin Wasserman comes out with.
  • (4/5)
    a gripping read
  • (2/5)
    Mean girls and outcasts gone wild. Disturbing story.
  • (4/5)
    3.75


    Wow. That was an incredibly dark and well written mess of a story. I say that with affection. It did drag in parts, and the need to be dark, at times, overwhelmed the plot. It tried just a tad too hard. Still, I rather enjoyed it.
  • (2/5)
    Who here has seen or heard of the movie “Heavenly Creatures”? It’s kind of a noteworthy gem for a number of reasons. The first is that it was one of the break out roles that Kate Winslet had before “Titanic”. It was also one of the movies Peter Jackson made before he took on the “Lord of the Rings” movies. But the third reason is the kicker: it’s also a true story, in which two girls in New Zealand, bolstered forth by their obsessive friendship, kill one of their moms because she didn’t approve of their closeness. And then one of them grew up to be Anne Perry the crime author. I think that “Heavenly Creatures” kind of sets a standard for the ‘dangerous obsessive female friendship’ trope, even if it was a real life occurrence. When I read about “Girls on Fire” I was pretty intrigued. I was hoping that I would find a new rumination on a story that’s been told many times over, from “Heavenly Creatures” to last year’s smash hit “The Girls”. But sadly I found more of the same old, same old.I think that it’s definitely important to note that “Girls on Fire” does tackle a lot of important questions about what it means to be a teenage girl in American society, and what expectations are thrust upon this group in terms of how to behave and interact with others. Both Lacey and Hannah (or “Dex” as Lacey renames her early in their friendship) are perceived in certain ways by not only their peers and their community, they are perceived in certain ways by their families, the people who are supposed to know them best. This, too, can be said for the bane of their existence, Nikki Drummond, the most popular girl in school who mistreats Hannah and anyone she sees as beneath her. Nikki has facades that she puts on for different people, and while Hannah thinks she knows one side, Lacey knows another one. The perspectives in this book are mainly those of Hannah and Lacey, alternating in sections called ‘Us’. But every once in awhile we’ll get an outside perspective from one of those close to them, under the sections called ‘Them’. I loved how this was set up, as it really reinforced the ‘us vs the world’ mentality that these two obsessed friends shared. I also liked how the structure served to explain just what happened with the popular boy who committed suicide, as it’s pretty clear from the get go that it’s not as cut and dry as it all seems.But now we get to the crux of the issue, and that is this isn’t a book that I enjoyed much beyond that. “Girls on Fire” didn’t really do anything new in terms of characterization and plotting. Both Hannah and Lacey were pretty two dimensional, even with their perspectives being laid out in the open. Lacey is the bad girl who has the terrible upbringing and just wants to be loved and turns to drugs, alcohol, and Kurt Cobain (as well as dabbling in the most milquetoast of stereotypical Satanism). Hannah is the quiet one who is so mousy that everyone is shocked when she starts to turn darker, and has darker deeper demons than anyone could have imagined. These are character tropes that we’ve seen before, and neither of them went beyond these tried and true depictions. Even the parents were stereotypes of what we imagine parents with kids like these to be. Hannah’s Mom is banal and unassuming and resents that her daughter is branching out into a more interesting realm. Her father is a former wild child who misses his days of being free, and therefore longs for Lacey both sexually and philosophically. And Lacey’s mother is an alcoholic who has married an abusive man. The only character who intrigued me and surpassed my expectations was Nikki, and even then she still ultimately lived up to our basal expectations of what a mean girl is and why a mean girl might be mean. It’s a real shame, because there was some serious potential in all of these girls to examine how our perceptions of them might be undue. But then they really didn’t have much more to say beyond what their main stereotypes were. And the central mystery isn’t really that much of a mystery, in all honesty. You can guess it pretty early on in the unspooling of that particular thread.I had higher hopes for “Girls on Fire” than the book was able to deliver. If you are interested in a story examining the perils of dangerous girl friendships, just get your hands on “Heavenly Creatures”.
  • (4/5)
    Girls on Fire by author Robin Wasserman takes place in a small town in Pennsylvania during the ‘90s. Hannah Dexter had managed to stay under the radar at high school until her senior year when a humiliating encounter with popular girl, Nikki Drummond, brings her to the attention of Lacey Champlain. Fueled by their mutual hatred for Nikki, they form a strong but unequal bond. Lacey takes over Hannah’s life, renames her Dex, changes her style from nondescript to grunge and introduces her to casual sex, binge drinking, the music of Kurt Cobain, and a couple of bad boys suspected of dabbling in drugs and Satanism. Dex’s mom has misgivings about the relationship between the two girls but her father seems to enjoy his daughter’s new rebelliousness and her new friend – perhaps a little too much. Running in the background is the story of the suicide of Nikki’s boyfriend, Craig, the previous Hallowe’en, an event that has raised a lot of questions and created some hysteria in the small town about Satanism. Girls on Fire is a well-written, compelling and suspenseful YA novel. It is also almost unceasingly dark. The narrative is divided between Lacey and Dex as they give us their own separate stories, an Us section in which we get their shared perspectives and a Them in which we get the perspective of others. Wasserman does a fascinating job of showing how toxic teenaged relationships can become as the story and their relationships move towards what can only be a bad ending for everyone. She has created some extremely unlikeable characters doing increasingly disturbing things and somehow makes us care how it will turn out. A definite high recommendation from me.Thanks to Edelweiss and Harper Publishing for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for an honest review
  • (3/5)
    I just finished reading Girls on Fire and I’m not completely sure how I feel about it. I both love and dislike it at the same time. I think that Robin Wasserman is a very talented writer and I really enjoyed the premise of the story; it was intense, dark, and even terrifying at some points because of just how far these girls were willing to go. On the other hand, I felt that there was just something missing from this novel to completely captivate me.
  • (3/5)
    ‘Origin stories are irrelevant. Nothing matters less than how you were born. What matters is how you die, and how you live. We live for each other, so anything that got us to that point must have been right.’Girls on Fire left me incredibly conflicted and I sat on my review for several weeks hoping that time would help elucidate my feelings. (It did not. Yet here I am.) Girls on Fire consists of the types of teenagers of a Megan Abbott novel; Dare Me is the one that immediately comes to mind. These teenagers are not the teenagers of a Sarah Dessen novel. They are crude and vulgar, whose actions go well beyond shocking and insulting. I was constantly bouncing back and forth between being impressed by their brazenness and appalled by their impudence. It was a bit exhausting.‘I loved it. Loved it like Shakespearean sonnets and Hallmark cards and all that shit, like I wanted to buy it flowers and light it candles and fuck it gently with a chainsaw.’Girls on Fire is set in the early 90s when Nirvana was at the top and Real World was everyone’s obsession. A small town in Pennsylvania is horrified after the supposed suicide of the town jock, Craig Ellison. No one thinks he could have done it but the evidence clearly proves otherwise. While the story begins with Craig’s death, and is constantly affected by it, the girls are center stage. Hannah Dexter is diffident and Lacey Champlain is fearless, so when Lacey takes “Dex” under her wing, their relationship becomes increasingly virulent the more time the duo spend together. Nikki Drummond is the requisite “mean girl” of the school and Lacey and Dex’s whole relationship is based off their shared hatred of her.The writing was opulent and whenever the story lost me slightly in its meanderings, the writing always kept me enticed. The story though, there was something excessive and tiresome about the way these young women were written. Something superfluous about their actions and their demeanor in general. The relationship between Lacey and Dex was intense and so very exorbitant. It wasn’t that the writing didn’t properly portray their relationship with one another, but rather it was written with such detail that you became a part of them and a part of their relationship. The whole thing was distasteful and depleting and something that you definitely did not want to be a part of.It’s a coming of age tale, about the metamorphose that, especially in individuals so young, can undergo because of the lives they’re forced to lead and the people they choose to surround themselves with. Bit by bit, each girls story unfolds and I once again found myself torn between how exactly I should be feeling. Despite my wavering opinion and low rating, this was certainly an audacious story to tell and is likely a very accurate portrayal (if a bit extreme) of female relationships and all the dark niches that are rarely exposed.‘What matters isn’t how we found each other, Dex, or why. It’s that we did, and what happened next. Smash the right two particles together in the right way and you get a bomb. That’s us, Dex. Accidental fusion.’