Girls on Fire

Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire
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Girls on Fire

Robin Wasserman

This is not a story of bad things happening to bad girls. I say this because I know you, Dex, and I know how you think. I’m going to tell you a story, and this time, it will be the truth.

Hannah Dexter is a nobody, ridiculed and isolated at school by golden girl Nikki Drummond. But in their junior year of high school, Nikki’s boyfriend walks into the woods and shoots himself. In the wake of the suicide, Hannah befriends new girl Lacey and soon the pair are inseparable, bonded by their shared hatred of Nikki. Lacey transforms good girl Hannah into Dex who is up for any challenge Lacey throws at her.

The two girls bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live and think they are invulnerable.  But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything …

Review

From its very first pages, I knew Robin Wasserman’s novel Girls on Fire was going to be a book for me. I say this because it’s not going to be a book for everyone. Girls on Fire is intense, shocking, vicious, intoxicating and violent. It’s Gillian Flynn meets Megan Abbott meets Heathers, with a just a touch of The Craft. The last third of the book, in particular, seems to almost relish going to dark, disturbing (semi-ridiculous) places. I was completely along for that ride. Be warned, readers, you may not be.

Set in a small US town in the early 1990s, the story is centred on two teenage girls, Dex and Lacey. Dex is a lonely introvert until she meets Lacey, and then her world changes. Lacey introduces Dex to the wonders of Kurt Cobain, Doc Martens, cheap wine and all-consuming adolescent best friendship. But Lacey is keeping secrets from Dex, and Dex is finding herself increasingly out of her depth in Lacey’s world.

Girls on Fire is told from the alternating perspectives of the two girls, an effective narrative device that works especially well as both their lives start to spiral out of control. Wasserman’s writing is sharp and insightful, with phrases and descriptions I wanted to underline and go back to reread. This is a brutal novel, filled with anger, obsession and desire, but it’s also a highly entertaining book, one that kept me turning the pages late into the night.


Nina Kenwood is the marketing manager for Readings.

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