‘Girls on Fire’ book review


My well worn copy of “Girls on Fire.”

Codi Farmer, Staff Reporter

The fictional novel, “Girls on Fire,” author Robin Wasserman tells the story of two best friends in Battle Creek, Pa. – “good girl” Hannah “Dex” Dexter, and the Kurt Cobain-worshipping bad influence, Lacey Champlain. The story, after a brief foreshadowing and description of modern girlhood, opens with Hannah. She is smart and lovable but very lonely and targeted by the local popular girl, Nikki Drummond. Nothing about the book seems particularly out of the ordinary until news spreads and the reader learns that the school’s basketball star and Nikki’s boyfriend, Craig Ellison, has been found dead in the woods shortly after Halloween in 1991. Though it was believed that he had committed suicide, some believed that there was more to the story.

Enter: Lacey. Lacey had just moved to Battle Creek that summer and befriended Hannah after finding her crying because of Nikki’s taunting. After her consoling, Lacey and Hannah began to grow very close and spent all of their time together. The reader watches as with every page turn, Hannah gets further and further from the clean-cut student she was at the start of the book under Lacey’s influence. With their vehement friendship came lots of trouble for the two girls, though, as Lacey’s past began to catch up with them both.

Perhaps one of the best aspects of this book is simply how captivating it is. With the elements of mystery and suspense as well as drama and humor, the reader doesn’t know what to expect. The sheer intensity of the characters and the vivid descriptions of the darkest elements of growing up are undoubtedly enticing. On top of the intense storyline comes sharp plot twists. Every time you think you understand and know what will happen, you’re wrong.

The only identifiable flaw that I had found with this book is simply the audience limitations. Though Wasserman’s talent and storytelling abilities are amazing, the book isn’t for everyone. Though it is targeted towards adults because of the mature themes and violent elements, I would imagine it being more difficult for an adult to resonate with the characters as heavily as an adolescent would, simply considering that the book itself is centered around an addictive and intoxicating friendship that doesn’t seem to be entirely fitting for a broad audience.

As a general rule for myself, I rarely read fiction books simply because I prefer to learn from what I read, however, this book made me more inclined to indulge myself into more fictional pieces. Though the book is hopefully not a relatable one, its brutal assessment of adolescent life reinforces the idea that things are very rarely what you would expect them to be.