Monday, April 18, 2016

Book Review: Things We Set on Fire

In the opening scene of Deborah Reed's novel Things We Set on Fire, the reader begins on the edge of their seat. The scene is immediately emotional and confusing. You suspect that you can't believe what you're being told; there must be more to the story than what's visible on the surface.

In the story that unfolds, Vivvie and her estranged daughters share their perspectives on the last thirty years. The differing versions are sometimes illuminating and sometimes heartbreaking. Misunderstandings create permanent rifts. This book is a how-to on the best way of including backstory. Reed drips the details in ever so slowly, forcing the reader to become an active participant, putting it together.

I raced through the first half of the book, but found the second half slower and some of the wrapping up over-explained. The writing is beautiful throughout and I loved when a scene was retold through a different character's eyes. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. This is her best novel. I agree with you on the slow infusion of back story--she does that so well, and it makes the book feel like a mystery. Which, of course, it is, in a literary-ish way!