So, I’m sat on a beach in the Dominican Republic, enjoying my Easter break and have swallowed up the first of the Carnegie short list. I felt I wanted to record a short review of the ones I read for several reasons: the main one being how blown away I was by the beauty of the writing and the second to take time to appreciate what I read. As an English teacher , we often miss out on the joys of reading in the quantities and depth that we want to. This Easter I’m righting that wrong.
Right, so first impressions of the book Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine wasn’t great if I’m honest. The cover and the blurb didn’t really sell it for me – it all seemed a little young. So it was a surprise when I sat down to read it that the main character Iris wasn’t anything like the cover and blurb suggested. Her character has depth and a use of metaphors about the world that seem insightful, almost spiritual whilst still in keeping with the age of the character.
Her view of her mother and step father, Hannah and Lowell, are cleverly encapsulating of, not just of their personas but also the issues surrounding materialism and superficiality.
The journey of Iris is told in flash backs along side the present as we meet her mid teen life on her way to visit a father that she believed all but abandoned her. The only comfort she has is her friend Thurston and her obsession with lighting fires. Her descriptions of the fires she creates are like a window into her soul, making her sharp tongue and honest approach to her ‘parents’ all the more touching and meaningful: they just don’t see her.
I was a massive fan of the Thurston character and the off kilter approach he has to life. We don’t ever really find out much about him other than he sees the world differently and is more than a form of escapism for Iris but his parallels with her father later in the story are evident.
On the whole I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. It was thought provoking, moving and made me wish I had a friend like Thurston. The irony of children knowing more than the adults and seemingly more world knowing was not lost on me either and I can definitely see why this is contender for the Carnegie prize.