Monday, July 14, 2014

The Firelight Girls by Kaya McLaren

The Firelight Girls by Kaya McLaren

Author: Kaya McLaren
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: October 14th 2014
Page Amount: 352 Pages (my copy had 341)
Price: $15.99 Paperback, $9.99 ebook
ISBN: 125001977X (ISBN13: 9781250019776)

"The summers you spend at summer camp are indelibly etched on your heart. But what happens when the camp you love is about to close? Can you ever really say goodbye to the place that made you who you are? This is the question that plagues Ethel, the seventy-year-old former camp director who is nursing a broken heart after losing the love of her life. It's also a question that inspires change in forty-year-old Shannon, who is directionless after watching her career implode. Then there is Ruby, who betrayed Ethel years ago and hasn't spoken to her since. Is this her chance to make amends? When the three women learn that a homeless teen has been hiding at camp—the only place she can escape her terrifying home life—they realize camp is something much more immediate for all: survival. Three generations of women are about to find so much more as they search for a way to save the place that saved them all in The Firelight Girls, Kaya McLaren's novel of love and loss, heartbreak and healing." (Goodreads Description)

This book follows the story of five women, who all have ties to Camp Firelight, a summer camp for girls of all ages. But, when the camp is closing down, Ethel, the camp "manager", decides she needs some help to clean the place up. She enlists the help of 3 other former campers, Laura, Ruby and Shannon. While the four of them continue to mourn the loss of their camp, Ethel is still mourning the loss of the love of her life, Haddie.

But, with all of the chaos surrounding a camp closing, Ethel stumbles upon an open window, and a stuffed wolf on the bed. Amber, a teenage girl with a neglectful mother, is staying here.

Throughout the story, all of the women are forced to face their past, and put together their future. We call them the Firelight Girls.

I enjoyed reading the story of this book. Particularly, I loved the diversity of the ages between characters. Ethel and Ruby are old enough to be considered grandmothers, while Shannon is working at a high school as a teacher, and Laura just sent off her two children to college. Amber is still attending high school, but with all of the pain and trouble in her life, she might not be for much longer. I feel the age difference between the characters allowed for multiple connections. Anyone who reads this book, regardless of age, will have a character that they identify most with. For me, this character was Amber.

I thought the storyline was amusing, and I was very excited to see what this book had in store for me. I thought the very concept of a novel about a summer camp was something that I have never seen before. I was very excited to receive this novel and I wanted to read it as quickly as I could. However, there are moments in the novel where I feel I just didn't want to read it anymore. I didn't want to abandon it, but there were some moments where the plot was slow. I understand after reading the novel that this was meant to build the character's history and explain why they act the way that they do, but there were moments where I struggled to pick the novel up.

Part of this had to do with the emphasis on the different characters. Ethel, by FAR, had the most amount of writing and her story in the novel, but because of her age, I wouldn't have expected any less. Ethel has had the camp stay with her the most, and she has the most to say about it. I do wish, however, that the story focused a little bit more on Amber and her struggles. It might allow for more Young Adults or New Adults to connect with the story. I do understand why this did not occur - Amber never went to Camp Firelight, so she does not share the same bonds with the camp as every other woman in this story does. For her, in the beginning, it was just a place for her to stay until her life got better. But, even that can be important.

I really did enjoy the storyline and I couldn't have been happier with the ending. I felt like each of the characters had their own distinct back story and their own message that they wanted to teach the readers. If there was one thing I took away from this novel, it is never stop fighting for what you believe in.

I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this novel through the Goodreads Giveaway Promotion.

Rating: 3.5-4 stars out of 5 stars.

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