Last year I was contacted by Diana Spechler to read and review her novel Who By Fire. I was extremely honored but a little nervous. What if I didn't like it? I really don't enjoy Lifetime Channel-y books. But I am so glad that I said yes. I can't believe this is her debut novel because it is really really good.
The story is about a family who's youngest daughter was kidnapped when she was six years old. Her body was never found. Thirteen years later the family is still trying to come to terms with her disappearance. The story mainly focuses on the remaining siblings, Bits and Ash. Bits, the sister, is kind of a wild-child. She has a sort of sex addiction and sleeps around. Ash has dabbled in various things and has converted to Orthodox Judaism, moved to Jerusalem, and pretty much cut off ties from the family. The father left early on after the abduction while the mother is a compulsive worrier. She thinks Ash has joined a cult and enlists the help of Bits to go to Israel and get Ash back.
So it's kind of a weird story premise, I think, but it works. The family dynamics is fascinating and I love how she depicts the struggle of a grieving family who is unable to move on because they never found the body. How instead of coming together, the tragedy splits the family and each grieves in his or her own way.
But the story doesn't come off as depressing. Diana Spechler is an amazing writer. Bits and Ash could be annoying characters but they aren't. I really felt for them. And there are some interesting side characters, like the crazy girl Ash meets or the cult-ish man the mother falls for.
I was going to keep this book but then I thought that I want to pass it along and let some one else read this. So please post a comment on why you want to read this by April 10th and I'll choose a winner. This is open to anyone anywhere.
Check out a couple of great interviews with Diana at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? and Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Also Reviewed by:
Bookfoolery and Babble
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
The Book Lady's Blog