Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Book Review and Giveaway: The Firelight Girls
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: Chloë 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.
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US only. Giveaway ends February 9th at midnight EST.