Year on Fire by Julie Buxbaum (Young Adult)

Writing: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Plot: 4/5

A quartet of students at the elite Los Angeles Wood Valley High School — each facing their own coming-of-age difficulties. Twins Immie and Archer, so close they tend to think conjoined thoughts; Paige, the strong, fearless, and ultra-competent; and Rohan, newly arrived from London with his father as a result of some pretty serious marital discord. And around them fires always seem to be burning — one wildfire after another and even a fire within the school itself as a none-too-subtle reminder of the fires that are raging within.

The dramas that comprise the story are more-or-less typical dramas faced by teens today — some run-of-the-mill first kisses, small betrayals, secrets (all still deeply felt regardless of their commonality) as well as a good array of home situations — all problematic in their own never over-the-top but nevertheless deeply felt way. I am impressed by the way Buxbaum treats these situations and experiences directly from the perspective of the student characters — each of whom have their own personalities and coping mechanisms. We are treated to their anger, sadness, confusion and the sometimes slow realization of their own parents as individuals with their own flaws and capacity for error.

Well-written with plenty of slowly gained insight and fun dialog / text streams.

Thank you to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on April 12th, 2022.

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