This is one of those books that you see displayed in the library and just think, “What the heck? I’ll give it a go.”
This is YA book, as most of the books I read are. It’s named after a painting, which ends up as quite a significant aspect in this novel.
Iris lives with her mother Hannah and step-father Lowell. She doesn’t remember her real father. Hannah has always told her that he didn’t want her, that he didn’t care. She blamed him for their debts, their problems.
Thurston is Iris’s best friend, her only friend. He means everything to her. He’s always been there for her, until she has to move away to England without any means of telling him where she’s gone.
Iris herself is a pretty troubled girl. Family life isn’t great – Hannah and Lowell want her to be more like them, more conscious of her appearance and wealth. But all Iris really cares about is fire. There’s nothing like the soothing flicker of a flame.
When she meets her father Ernest, Iris soon realises that everything she’s been told by her mother has been a lie. He didn’t leave her; Hannah took her, changed her name and hid. Ernest had been searching for her for years. But now it was too late.
The book actually begins with Ernest’s funeral, and sort of goes backwards a few times. There’s memories written throughout, clips from the past. We slowly learn more and more about Iris’s personality, and we watch her re-develop her relationship with her father.
It’s actually a pretty great book. It’s so realistic, and unique. It isn’t a fantasy, it isn’t a cheesy romance, it isn’t even really a book with a typical happy ending.
Although I wouldn’t have searched this book out in particular, I am happy I read it. I’m not sure it quite gets 4 stars from me, so I’ll give it 3.5.