Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway: The Firelight Girls

By Melissa Amster

I went to overnight camp two different times in my life. The first time was a social nightmare and had my BFF not stuck it out with me, I would have left rather quickly. The second time was more enjoyable, but I didn't come home boasting of any lifelong friendships. When I went to an overnight youth group retreat in the winter of 1990, I became close friends with a girl my age, all due to our similar hairstyles. Twenty-four years later and it's like no time has passed. So that allowed me to relate to the friendships made at overnight camp in The Firelight Girls by Kaya McLaren.

The summers you spend at summer camp are indelibly etched on your heart. But what happens when the camp you love is about to close? Can you ever really say goodbye to the place that made you who you are? These are the questions that plagues Ethel, the seventy-year-old former camp director who is nursing a broken heart after losing the love of her life as she now faces the impending closure of the camp on Lake Wenatchee that she called home. It's also a question that inspires change in forty-year-old Shannon, who spent the summers of her youth as a vibrant, capable camp counselor and is now directionless after watching her career implode. And there's Laura, who has lost all intimacy with her husband and doesn't know if she can save what seems to be gone forever. Finally, Ruby, who betrayed Ethel years ago and hasn't spoken to her since, hopes this will be her chance to make amends. When the four women learn that a homeless teen has been hiding at camp, they realize camp is something much more immediate for all: survival. And so the three generations of women search for a way to save the place that saved them all, finding in the process a way back to themselves and each other. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I read How I Came to Sparkle Again a couple of years ago and loved it so much that when I heard Kaya had a new book out (thanks to a post from Liz and Lisa), I made sure to get my hands on a copy as soon as possible. Kaya has such a genuine approach to all her characters, allowing us to witness their flaws and weaknesses early on and feel sympathetic towards them right away. I really enjoyed the female bonding aspect and how all the women of various ages stuck together. This bond shows how age doesn't matter when it comes to friendship and we are all women with hopes and dreams who have seen our shares of hardship and pure happiness in our lives. There's also a powerful message of forgiveness running through the story.

There was a unique aspect of this story as well, since Ethel was a lesbian. Not many books explore this topic and this one showed how much times have changed in terms of what people accepted back in the 1950s and 1980s, as compared to the present day. Her relationship with Haddie was sweet, while also being realistic about the challenges that come with going against what everyone else wants for you, just for the sake of true love.

Amber's part of the story is my favorite. It reminds me once again that I need to read more young adult novels and step outside of my usual genre a bit. I was really impressed with how Amber found ways to survive and fend for herself and the kinship she felt with the other women once she was discovered.

While some parts felt slow, such as when the women were talking philosophically about their lives, I liked how everything came together in the story overall, as well as the interactions between the various characters. It was a beautifully told story and it made me want to find more ways to connect to our readers and allow them to become more involved with this blog and on social media.

Of course, I had casting ideas in my mind while reading this novel.
Ethel 2012: Kathy Bates
Ruby 2012: Jenny O'Hara
Shannon 2012: Paget Brewster
Laura 2012: Kristen Wiig
Amber: Chloƫ Grace Moretz

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy for a lucky US reader!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


US only. Giveaway ends February 9th at midnight EST.

31 comments:

Janine said...

I only have online friendships with ladies younger or older then I am. So, it's hard to really relate to one that is in someone's personal life.

susieqlaw said...

I have a friend who I've known since birth. She is 5 months older than I. We grew up next door to each other. We were so close that after first grade, our teachers decided to put is in different classes. When we were twelve, we both moved but kept in touch and visited occasionally. When we were 21, her sister died unexpectedly. Instinctively, I dropped everything and traveled to spend the weekend with my lifetime friend. We do not have to talk all the time, but we will remain forever friends.

Bonnie Franks said...

My best friend for the last forty years and I have a ten year age difference. I am the younger of us, and yet you would never know that if you found us together. Not talking about how we look, although right now I look much older than she does, but how young she is in spirit no matter what life hands her. Wouldn't have wanted to go through any of our experiences without her.

Angel Wells said...

I work with with an older lady that is not only my co worker but a friend. I love listening to her stories, advice, and recipes.

Kelly M said...

I would want to be friends with Meryl Streep.

traveler said...

I have a friend who is 15 years older and she is a wonderful woman who is always there for me. She is young at heart, and has endless energy and interests. We meet and exchange news, books and gifts on our birthdays which are 4 days apart. When I met her I knew we were lifelong friends. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Rosemary Huelsebusch said...

I have a friend who we go back to our grandparents being friends first, then our fathers, and we came next. Literally have known her since birth. Now our children and grandchildren are friends. We go long periods where we don't see each other but can pick up at any time as if it was yesterday!

Rhonda J G said...

I would love to be friends with Julie Andrews! And Meryl Streep.

Tracy Krimmer said...

My friend Rebecca is almost 10 years older than me! Does that count?

Bonnie K. said...

I was friends with a neighbor who was about 50 years older than me. She was single and had no children. Our common interest were books. She had lots of old books and let me peruse them occasionally. For my wedding gift she gave me a book with gems for a married woman. Fun stuff. LOL I treasure it though. I think it was printed in the early 1900. Not sure how she got the book--maybe she was engaged at one time. Anyway, when she knew she didn't have much time left, she had me come visit her and select a bunch of books from her collection. I still have most of them.

bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

My best friend was 15 years older then me
. We laughed and talked every day, worked together for about 8 years.
She was coming back from a dr appointment after getting a clean bill of health, she stopped with her daughter to get some water, had a heart attack and was DOA when they got her to the hospital. That was 7 years ago and I still think about her every day.
puddinp1e@msn.com

Heather said...

I have a friend that is almost 10 years older than me, but to me she seems timeless because she's got such a fresh outlook on life! I love being around her.

Vivian Vereeke said...

I would love to become friends with Mary Higgins Clark.

Linda Kish said...

I am friends with all of my neighbors who are young enough to be my kids. I am 65 and they are all in their early to mid 40s. I am also friends with others who are in their 70s and 80s. Age has never mattered to me.

Anita Yancey said...

I would love to be friends with Laura Dern, who is much older than I am.

jodi marinich said...

i would love to be friends with jackie collins and learn all her secrets

Nova said...

i have friends of all ages. i would love to be friends with Betty White! can you imagine the stories she could tell!?!

debb1955 said...

I would love to be friends with Diane Keaton.

bn100 said...

Betty White

Terri. said...

I would love to know Melissa McCarthy

Glenda Hefty said...

Good friends I have made that are ten years or older were friends I made while I worked at the hospital. Sadly most of these friends have passed on as it's been years since I worked there. I've moved away and lost touch over the years. Most of my friends now are friends I made at university and here in the town I live in.

Melanie Backus said...

My best friend is my daughter and what a great friend she is.

Kimberly V said...

Helen Mirren is a celebrity at least ten years older than me who I think it would be fun to be friends with.

cpr040304 said...

Diane Keaton would be my choice for a celebrity friend. She seems down to earth and I think we would have loads of fun.

Shelby N. said...

I'd want to be friends with Melissa McCarthy...I bet she's a hoot to hang out with and she seems really nice.

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I would want to be friends with Betty White!!

Elizabeth Parker said...

One of my coworkers is 44 and I am 28. We have a lot of fun though!

Meg Munson said...

I used to work with a woman about 25 years older than me and we got along great! We were so surprised to find that we had many of the same interests even though there was such an age difference.

Hailey Fish said...

Around the end of 2012 my mom went to lunch with a group of women (co-workers at the time she worked with at the casino) and she decided to ask me if I'd be interested in going because I live at home and I'm on the autism spectrum. I knew it would be a great time! During this luncheon, I met Maria. Right away I loved her for her warmth, sense of humor, and the way she made me feel as if I was the only person in the room. My mom has known Maria since Maria was 16 years old and my mom was a young single mother and Maria would babysit for my much older brothers before I was born. Ever since that day, I have bugged my mom at least once a week to go over to Maria's house. On Super Bowl Sunday Maria and her husband invited my parents and I over to their house to watch the game and have a good time. Maria is the kindest, most gentle, loving, woman in the entire world. What is even better, her cooking is amazing! She is the one who would give you the shirt off her back, the one who would drop everything to help you out in any situation. If I drove, I would be over her house almost every day. She has two teen boys and I'm like the daughter she never had. She always tells the best stories. Even though we don't see each other too often because of work and other things going on in our lives, when we do get together, it is like no time has passed at all.

Sharon said...

Goldie Hawn

Crystal Young said...

I volunteered at the Nursing Home where my Mom worked and I became friends with one of the lady's, her name was Mary and I would always go and visit and She always gave me great advice and we always had a lot of fun talking and playing cards. RIP Mary.