This is a story about college, about fire and also about love.
Allison Lee is seventeen and off to college in the fall. So far, she’s been in love once (total catastrophe) and on fire twice (also pretty bad). Both love and fire have left their scars.
Looking a little more burnt chicken and a little less radiant phoenix, Allison takes up residence in Dylan Hall (a.k.a. Dyke Hall) at St. Joseph’s College, where she discovers the true gift of freshman year: the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Miles away from the high school she’s happy to leave behind, her all-female dorm is a strange new world, home to new social circles and challenges. Allison still feels like the odd girl out … until Shar appears. Beautiful and blinding, Shar quickly becomes the sun at the centre of Allison’s universe, drawing her in with dangerous allure.
Will Allison get burned again? And, if she does, what kind of scars will she earn this time?
I’ve been on a big “Canadian author” kick lately so I jumped at the chance to read Mariko Tamaki’s newest book, (You) Set Me on Fire.
I became invested in Allison’s story right from the start. It’s unique and more than a little strange. But then, Allison is strange, too, which was a nice change from all the perfect lead characters that are found in books. While reading, I felt like she was speaking directly to me, or that I was reading a letter she wrote. My only complaint about the writing is the use of caps lock all through the book. I started to find it annoying after awhile. I realize, however, that cap locks are extremely ‘teenagerish’ so that fact doesn’t bring down my review at all. It was just a personal preference.
The characters in the book are as weird and diverse as Allison. I love that! Nothing about them is cookie cutter at all. With the introduction of each new player in Allison’s story, the story was enriched. The entire book is unlike anything I’ve ever read and I sincerely appreciate that. Plus, I’ve never read anything where the main character is lesbian before. It gave her another layer and I enjoyed watching her grow – leaving teenagerdom behind and moving toward adulthood.