Girls on Fire

Danger -
Friend Worship -
Girls on Fire is a terrifyingly beautiful pageturner
Robin Wasserman
Publication Date
May 10, 2016
Number of Pages

In all honesty, I picked this book up for the cover. I know we’re not meant to judge books by their covers, but why give books covers if that were true?  My copy of Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman is cream with a single bent bobby pin on the cover and on the pin is one single hair that looks strangely sinister. The cover completely does the book justice, as the book is just that little bit off and definitely disturbing.

Girls on Fire is a coming of age story set in the 90s. Kurt Cobain is a major influence and grunge is at an all time high. Hannah is a quiet, good girl who is a bit of a loner and keeps her head down at school, but that all changes when Lacey comes into her life.

Lacey wears plaid shirts, combat boots, idolizes Cobain, and oozes cool. She just doesn’t give a shit about what people think of her. Lacey gifts Hannah a new name: Dex. Dex is suddenly able to do all the things that Hannah couldn’t; she goes to parties, she drinks, she wears different clothes.

Hannah and Lacey are both abysmal people. They really are. They’re rude, awful, mean, and dangerous. Some of the things they get up to (including ritualistic black magic sacrifices) are downright disgusting.

I hated both of them. I hated being in their company. I didn’t understand the Cobain-loving (I was a bit more of a Spice Girls gal). I didn’t understand how they could be so cruel and not care and I didn’t understand how they thought the decisions they were making were good ones, in any way.

Despite all of this, I was still reading and I was glued to the page. It’s a hard one to explain and one I still don’t fully understand, but I found the more I hated them, the less I was able to put the book down. I was completely hooked.

The chapters alternate between the two girls. Through Hannah’s chapters, you see how she grows, how she comes to idolize Lacey (even though she has to pretend to understand the obsession with Kurt Cobain). She loves being Dex and she’s slightly in love with Lacey.

Lacey’s chapters are unnerving. Through these snippets, you learn just how messed up she is. Lacey’s a bad egg and has had a lot more to do with the supposed suicide of the school’s top jock (the point at which this book begins) than she is letting on.

Through Girls on Fire I realized that you don’t have to like the main characters of a book to be mesmerized by it. I don’t know if I can honestly say I enjoyed reading this book but I’m glad I did.

It’s dark, poisonous, tough, and unpleasant but it’s also powerful, brimming with love and a story that needs to be read to be understood. The more I talk about Girls on Fire, the more I realize its effect on me. It terrified me, but I couldn’t tear myself away. I really shouldn’t have expected anything less; the ominous hairpin cover told it all.

About the Contributor

This is Maiko. She’s liked books since forever, which is how she ended up working in publishing. Her favorite author is now, and forever will be, Tamora Pierce (and not only because Prince Jonathan was her first book crush). She’ll read anything (unless it’s Austen) and especially loves folklore and myth. Her current addictions are radio-drama podcasts, movies starring Domhnall Gleeson and going for extravagantly long walks. She’s based in London and currently works for Hachette.