Publish Date: November 7, 2017
“Some of us are out of place even when we are home.” ―
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.
But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’s biggest scandal from more than a decade ago, involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.
With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote rural town of just five claustrophobic square miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of what happens when your past and present collide.
“Any self-help book in the world will tell you that you can’t just run your past away.” ―
This book has a lot of hype because the author is the star of Netflix’s Jessica Jones series. I have never watched the show, but I was drawn to the book because of its Hollywood connection. I jumped at the chance to read it when the publisher offered it to me. Thank you, Crown Publishing!
The plot reminds me of the movie Erin Brokovich because it’s about a woman fighting a big company on an environmental issue in a small town, against all odds; but, this book kicks it up a notch with an unreliable narrator, mean girls, a dark vibe and thriller twists. It has a lot of character development, with flashbacks to the past so that the reader understands Abby William’s turmoil about coming home.
The narrator, Abby, has her inaugural trip home after fleeing the town a decade ago following her high school graduation. She reluctantly returns to Barrens because her law firm is investigating a case. Her homecoming is filled with painful reminders of her childhood, being mistreated by her father, and bullied by her awful high school classmates. Every person and place triggers unpleasant memories. Her classmates have grown up and changed, but all Abby can remember is the past. Very relatable.
“Memories are like fire, and need only a little oxygen to grow.” ―
This book is about bullying, secrets, corruption, memories, and forgiveness. It reminds me that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I was surprised at the depth of this book and the thoughtful prose.
“The problem is that people think in black and white. They think they can have the good without the bad. But everything that’s good for one person is probably bad for someone else. Life isn’t like the Bible says it is. It isn’t a choice between good and evil. It’s about choosing which evils you can stand.” ―
The excellent writing made me experience Abby’s painful memories of Barrens, her relationship with her estranged father, and reuniting with her former bullies. Krysten Ritter does a great job of portraying the town and people of Barren. Abby gradually becomes an unreliable narrator and you start to wonder what is real and what is not. I enjoyed trying to decipher her character and motivations.
This book exceeded my expectations and I am impressed with Krysten Ritter’s debut novel. I hope that she writes another book soon.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for providing my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.