Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Firecracker, by David Iserson had me giggling almost at every page. I'm sure my co-workers in the break room thought I was crazy, and I know my husband gave me some strange looks. But it was just the kind of book I was in the mood for - light, funny, engaging, yet with just enough depth and heart to keep it from being complete cotton candy.
Astrid Krieger comes from a long line of powerful, influential, filthy rich people -- the kind who actually fit into that much-aligned "one percent." She lives in a defunct rocket ship in her family's back yard...she's never owned a pair of jeans...she's been arrested multiple times and has no qualms at throwing money at any problem...she's never been to a drive-through restaraunt...she doesn't know how to drive (why would she, when she has a private car and driver at her beck and call)...and has never been roller skating. Astrid doesn't have any friends (except her Grandfather -- who uses his diplomatic immunity to shoplift candy in foreign countries), but she doesn't really care. Her counselor and former dean of students calls her a "firecracker" which "in certain social circles is code for a**hole." Her self-proclaimed gift is seeing people's usefulness...and using (exploiting) that for her someteims elaborate schemes and plots. When one of those long-running plots (cheating) gets her expelled from yet another private school, her punishment is one she deems worse than death: public school. And with it, actual friends, personal and family revelations, new enemies, old enemies, and one very elaborate revenge scheme.
The plot in this book really centers around Astrid's personal growth as a character -- we get to know her better and see her grow. Astrid's not really a "nice" person -- but she's layered and more vulnerable that one would initially guess. I liked that her new surroundings bring people who look past that arrogant, clueless, prickly exterior and help bring out the best in her. And I really liked that while yes, Astrid's story is one of a girl getting in touch with her humanity and learning to be just a little less selfish...it's not one of those stories where the character makes a huge, life-altering change. Even those people who are helping her grow aren't trying to change her, they like her and love her just the way she is -- and simply encourage her to be the best version of herself. At the end of the story, Astrid is still Astrid -- she's still a firecracker. But she's a better Astrid in some ways: a little more aware of other people, a little more open.
bottom line: if you're looking for a funny, character-driven book with a different kind of heroine, check it out.