Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Published by Harper
Teenagers Hannah and Lacey are not your average high school kids – Hannah is a loner, a girl who doesn’t believe in herself, is painfully insecure, and has few friends, while Lacey is the “bad girl”, someone who is considered a bad influence on others and has very little in the way of support or attention at home. When the two become friends immediately after one of their male classmates has committed suicide, their bond becomes extremely strong very quickly, united in their love of Nirvana and obsession with Kurt Cobain. But there are things Lacey isn’t telling Hannah, and as these secrets are gradually revealed, the reader watches as Hannah transforms into a different person altogether and the two of them make some choices that have shocking – and devastating – consequences.
Reading Girls on Fire is like watching a ten-car pile-up and not being able to do a damn thing to stop anybody from getting killed. This is the type of book that made me literally want to put my hands over my eyes and read through the space in between my fingers – it is just that crazy what happens within this novel. These girls are not only damaged, but the ways that they choose to behave and treat others are just out of the realm of believability. I guess this stuff happens but … I don’t know. If anything like this happened in my high school, I certainly wasn’t aware of it.
Anyway. This is one wild ride. These girls are on the brink of adulthood, but they have NO idea how to act like adults. There is a ton of sex and drugs throughout the book, and that part, at least, felt very believable and true to reality. If nothing else, the book illustrated just how far a teenager will go to fit in, just how damaging it is for teens to feel as though their reputations are destroyed, and exactly how a seemingly innocent situation spirals out of control, in the hands of the wrong people, especially the wrong teenagers.
The novel was great in that I couldn’t put it down, the characters were so well-drawn and fully developed so that I felt like I really knew them, and the story itself just didn’t stop moving. While some of the elements of the novel bordered on unbelievable, I get what Wasserman was trying to do here and I think that for the most part, she succeeded.