The autumn morning after sixteen-year-old Audrey Harper loses her virginity, she wakes to a loud, persistent knocking at her front door. Waiting for her are two firemen, there to let her know that the moment she's been dreading has arrived: the enormous wildfire sweeping through Orange County, California, is now dangerously close to her idyllic gated community of Coto de Caza, and it's time to evacuate.
Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, as Audrey wrestles with the possibility of losing her family home, she also recalls her early, easy summer days with Brooks, the charming, passionate, but troubled volunteer firefighter who enchants Audrey--and who is just as enthralled by her. But as secrets from Brooks's dark past come to light, Audrey can't help but wonder if there's danger in the pull she feels--both toward this boy, and toward the fire burning in the distance.
Genre: Mystery, Romance, Teen--
I am a child of Southern California and the wildfires that consume everything were such a huge part of my life growing up. There were plenty of times that we received notices to be prepared to evacuate, school closed due to poor air quality, and people walking around with face masks as ash rained down. When I saw that this book was about a California fire, I was interested to see how the book would play out. And oh my geez, this was not at all what I expected this book to be when I started, and I really mean that in the best way possible. The author nailed the setting perfectly, the story was able to bring to life the fire, the desperation, the loss. This was such a crazy, emotional ride and where I started with these characters is not how we ended. This is very much a character driven story, where almost no action happens, but really it was introspective as to how the characters developed, what pushed them into certain situations, and what kind of outcome do they have left to them.
I feel like I know Audrey, every damaged, hurt part of of her. And when I say damaged, I am being serious. This girl is an emotional mess, but at the same time I could 100% relate to her, empathize with her, and I understood how she got to be in this place. I don't blame her for her feelings, she was lost and thought she had been found, but instead she found herself in a dangerous, passionate, world full of lies she could not see through. I rooted for her at the end of the book, so happy at the revelations she admitted to as well as the truths she fought for. And her love towards her sister and best friend were amazing, showing all the kinds of relationships a person needs to be healthy.
I loved the format of the book, with lots of short chapters, ranging from just a paragraph to four or five pages. If you want to hook me on a story this is the best way to do it- I always think just one more and next thing I know I am a 100 pages further and it's an hour later. I love this writing format, to me it makes a book more approachable and easy to escape into, be it briefly or for hours.
Also, the story takes place over 24 hours, but the current actions are alternated with the memories that Audrey has had over the past few months pertaining to her relationship with Brooks, filling in the dynamic between their relationship status and how we all got this point.
This is the authors debut book and I could not be more impressed with the crazy ride that I was taken on. I sped through the pages and was shocked by the twists provided. This is not rainbows and sunshine, but hurt, depression and all the feels. I highly recommend this read for anyone looking for an emotional, realistic YA read to get sucked into. I look forward for more from this author.