Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.
I’d seen this book here and there, and it sounded like it would be good. It wasn’t something that I would normally pick up, but I wanted to give it a try eventually because I’ve been wanting to branch out more. Plus, it sounded like I would enjoy it; I’m appreciating emotional books a lot more. Then, I saw so many rave reviews, on Goodreads of all places, so then I got really pumped for it. Trigger warnings: grief, attempted suicide, burn treatment
While I might not have the same raving feelings as everybody else, this book was really, really solid. It’s not a book I would normally pick up, but I’m glad I did. It’s a different type of story, with different types of characters, but I really enjoyed it. It had heartbreaking moments and it had moments that mended my heart and it had moments when my heart just existed because that’s how life is sometimes.
Ava is finding her new normal. I think that’s what I liked most about this book. It’s a book about her realizing that finding a new normal is alright. She can exist as she is. I personally don’t think she found her inner strength. I think she realized the strength she had all along. It was always there inside of her, and she used in ways she didn’t realize, but it was there. She’s strong in her own way and on her own terms.
The characters were really, really well done. They practically pop off the page. The side characters, Piper and Asad, were so well developed. Even the minor characters had so much depth to them. They all have their own problems and struggles and pain. They’re all trying to work through it in the ways they know how. I liked that it was different and looked different for each of them. I didn’t expect to like Piper as much as I did. She tries to cover her pain by being as loud and as out there as possible. Her journey might have been on the sidelines, but she was such a lively and amazing character.
There is a lot of emotional growth in this book. Ava and Piper change so much from the beginning. They grow and they have setbacks and they grow some more. Despite this, I wish more focus would have been on their emotional turmoil. I felt like a lot of focus was on top layer of their emotional stories. The feelings that they feel all the time, the struggles they carry day to day, and how they cope to just make it through. A lot hides under that, and it’s very evident from what happens at the end of the book. Maybe some stuff just flew over my head! Personally, I would have liked more focus on the deeper feelings. But then again, none of the characters what to acknowledge that part of them, which I can relate to. I dunno, I just felt like there could have been more there.
Overall, this was a very solid book. It was beautifully written. Emotional development was subtle, but it happens. That’s one of the things I liked the most. It was a process. This book was raw and real. It had Broadway musicals and it had scenes that made it so easy to cry. It was just really real.
Thank you for reading!