UK Publishing Date: 2 July 2015. 256 pages.
Fire Colour One is a rare book. It’s one of those Young Adult books that have the ability to touch anyone of any age that reads it. My only frustration with it was that it wasn’t long enough!
Iris lives in America with her mother Hannah and her stepfather. Hannah is a vacuous socialite and her husband is a wannabe actor, blinkered and focussed only on the path to his success. The pair of them have squandered any cash they had on designer clothes and material goods. When Hannah discovers that Iris’s father is dying she drags the family back to England so that Iris – and therefore Hannah – can claim her inheritance.
Iris is a very complicated character, a child who is largely unseen by the adults in her life and because she is uprooted so often has never really made any friends. An attempt to play nice and be friendly leads to her being a victim of a physical assault. She feels different and frustrated and this finds an outlet with her pyromania. I found her emotional and physical response to the fires really interesting. I guess that’s why movies like Backdraft were so popular – even “normal” people have a fascination with fire and the way it appears to breathe and to live. Her relationship with Thurston is beautifully explored but I would like to have known a bit more about him – perhaps there is another book there?
The book moves backwards and forwards in time. Starting with Iris after her father’s funeral and then moving seamlessly through Iris’s prior life in America interlaced with conversations with her dying father. Ernest is a stranger to Iris. She grew up believing that he had abandoned them. That he didn’t want a child. Through these conversations Iris begins to realise that she was loved and the things that she has been feeling run through the generations.
I loved this book on so many levels. The discussions about Art and particularly about Yves Klein – the painter of Fire Colour One – were a revelation and I had to google the painting so that I could see exactly what Iris did.
It is rare that a YA book leaves me thinking about it several days after I have finished it but I realise that I’m still making connections several days later and I think that I’m going to have to go back and re-read it. Thoroughly recommend this book, it is just beautiful.
Book provided by Net Galley and the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Fire Colour One
Prolific reader, enthusiastic theatre and movie-goer and ex-Olivier Awards judge who spent twenty years working in the music industry in London. I love sharing my favourite books with friends - nearly always spoiler-free as I hate reading a synopsis of the whole book in other reviews.