Book Review: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
Pub Date: 9 Nov. 2017
Publisher: Hutchinson
Length: 288 pages
Hardback: £12.99

Synopsis

Abby Williams returns to the small town where she grew up. Now working as a successful environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has been tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s economic heart. Abby begins to find strange connections to a decade-old scandal involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

As Abby attempts to find out what happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations.”

Krysten Ritter, star of American TV shows such as Jessica Jones and Don’t Trust The B**** in Apartment 23, has published her début novel, Bonfire. I have to admit I had mixed emotions; unsure whether this actor, who I have been a fan of for some years, would be skilled enough to pull off a novel ( I think it was J G Ballard who said one shouldn’t not write a full length novel for a first outing). Bonfire has been described as being ‘dark, disturbing and compulsively readable’ amongst the blurb.


I found the writing to be mature, I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was. Ritter keeps the writing tight and moving along at a fair pace. The protagonist, Abby Williams, is deftly portrayed, she has a strong voice and reminded me a little of a cross between the two characters Ritter has played in the aforementioned shows; intelligent, forthright and possibly a little bit sexy. Other characters are portrayed well with sparse use of adjectives, yet we get to see them clearly.

Abby has tried hard to move away from the memories of her home-town. Memories dominated by the popular girl Kaycee Mitchell, memories of her bullying, of becoming her friend, of Kaycee’s clique of hangers on, like the appalling Misha, and ultimately the illness that gripped Kaycee and the others. To Abby, there is a connection between the illnesses and Optimal Plastics and she sets out to prove it.

Bonfire is dark and compulsive reading, but the disturbing not so much for me. I found myself thinking of The Virgin Suicides (1993), Mean Girls and a little Twin Peaks. So, not hugely original or with a shocking or surprising outcome. Maybe because I am British, but I found it quite difficult to relate to many of the characters; do high school students really behave like that in USA?! And I simply could not get my head around the idea that school-age Abby wanted to be friends with such a bitch! But maybe I’m not the target audience.

Although there are a couple of close moments between the protagonist and other character, there is no reason why this cannot be read by those aged 16 years.

I’m giving Bonfire 3 stars

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Who’s The Best Mum In The World?

Okay, I’m going to get this off my chest once and for all. I have not spoken about parenting before. But I can’t bear it anymore; so many stories I hear about child rearing infuriate me! Really make my blood boil!

But I’m no expert, I’ll tell you that right off. I know someone is going to say, ‘Who does she think she is? One child?’ Yes, I have 1, singular, an only, child.

It was a choice we deliberated over – did we want to have a child? Could we afford to bring a child into the world? Were we going to be a burden on the state? What skills did we have to look after another human life? Were we mentally and emotionally mature enough to bring up a child?

Who knew it could be so hard, so demanding, so exhausting, and heartwarming?

My ‘child’ is now a 20-year-old; a young woman. She is studying away at university. I feel I have done a good job (with some assistance from the hubby). On her 20th Birthday, I thought, ‘I did it. I got her to adulthood confident that she is a pretty well-rounded human being with a strong sense of who she is and what she wants from life. Job done’. I have worked with college students for almost 13 years. They tell me their problems, I see their physical, mental and emotional development on show daily, so I have a pretty good idea of what the results of parenting can be. So you want to be a parent?….

1. Forget about ‘rights’ – we all have the right to have a baby, I hear someone wail – really? You think? What about the child’s rights to be nurtured and loved and fed correctly and clothed and schooled and nursed and so on and so forth. You do not have to have children. It is NOT ‘what you do’ because everyone else does it! I see so many young mothers with multiple offspring who complain about their kids! You made a choice – get on with it! And use contraception next time!

2. Children come first. YOU hold sole responsibility for your child before he/she starts school. YOU are the primary carer – ALWAYS! Get over yourself if you think that your interests are more important than your child’s well-being.

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Give everyone relief, by teaching your youngster how to blow her nose!

3. Stop handing over responsibility! Teach your child something before he/she goes to school – for Christ’s sake!!!! It is NOT the schools job to teach your child how to – use a knife and fork, tie her shoelaces, blow his nose, wipe her bottom, fasten shirt buttons, tie his school tie, pronounce his name correctly, write her own name, recall own home address, learn some manners. All these, my daughter could do before attending Nursery school aged 3 1/2. No, she isn’t a child genius – she was prepared.

Parents who avoid teaching children how to tie shoelaces are ‘hindering their development’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/11843223/Parents-who-avoid-teaching-children-how-to-tie-shoelaces-are-hindering-their-development.html

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Don’t let your kid be that one at college who can’t tie his laces – everyone will laugh at him!

4. Do not leave it all up to the schools. It is your job, as the parent, to prepare your offspring for the world at large. It is your job to make an independent human being. It is your job to ensure your child has the confidence and where-with-all to go forwards without you. I think our society, media, needs to stop blaming teachers when something goes awry with a child. We also need to stop blaming Social Workers, when a childs life is in danger – I notice with astonishing regularity that blame is laid heavily on the Workers and little on parents. These people do the jobs they do because they are excited and driven to help young people – your children, not theirs, yours!

‘Teachers can only ever have a small impact on their students’ results – yet they are judged as if they are 100% responsible’ https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/teachers-can-only-ever-have-a-small-impact-their-students-results

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Remember what happened to Augustus?!

5. What are you putting in your child’s mouth?! Come on really? You didn’t know that sugar was bad for their teeth? The number of Primary School aged children in the UK having multiple fillings and extractions has risen dramatically. It is frankly shocking that anyone could allow this to happen to their child. Fizzy drinks and chocolates and shitty kids cereals. All the information is there – read the ingredients dumb ass. SUGAR BAD. OKAY? Buy a recipe book. Get online recipes. Sit down as a family for meals. It isn’t that hard, you can’t afford to be lazy if you’re going to be a parent.

‘The number of children aged four and under being hospitalised for tooth extractions has risen by almost a quarter in the last decade, new figures have revealedhttp://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/tooth-decay-teeth-remove-children-hospitalised-numbers-up-10-years-quarter-25-per-cent-a7640031.html

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This is a form of child abuse. Stop it!

6. If you annoy me is it ok for me to hit you?! At college, we can often spot the teen who has been smacked by his parent/s. Stop it. Just, stop. There is absolutely NEVER any need to smack a child. You are the grown-up, find a way to deal. Babies and Toddlers are not naughty, really; they are exploring the world around them – so you’re going to make them angry at the world from an early age – just because you are?! Grow up.

‘Children who are smacked by parents ‘more likely to grow up to be ABUSIVE’ https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/889028/Smacking-child-abuse-parents-more-likely-become-abusive-domestic-violence

7. And finally, young folk – Take no notice of those teachers who tell you that your GCSE choices will be the ‘most important’ you will ever make. I tell my students – “There are only two decisions that you will make in life that are the most important. One– should I spend the rest of my life with this person? And Two – should I bring another human being into the world? That’s it, all the rest is gravy.

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There’s going to be a lot of this; buckle up.

So in the words of that 1970s advert – Think before you drink, before you drive, Think before you bring another human into the world!

Best Mum In The World? Well maybe not, but my daughter thinks so.  smileyface

 

New Years Resolutions of Super ‘Heroes’

Happy New Year to all my readers. Yeah I’m late, so sue me! Let’s hope it’s a goodie!

Do you chaps make New Years resolutions? I’m not sure if this is just a western thing or countries around the world partake of this annual making-a-promise-to-improve-oneself-or-do-something-different. I gave up making them years ago and this year I have made 4 – swear less, smoke less, lose weight and publish book. *If only you could see my face right now*

Thought I’d start the year with something daft, a bit of candyfloss for the brain as I like to call it (and some of my writing-but that’s another matter). So I present for your delectation a selection of New Years resolutions from some of our favourite comic characters – yeah I actually interviewed them! What!? I didn’t say I was going to stop lying in 2018!!!

 

“Gonna smile more.” Hellboy

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Hellboy, ” I AM smiling!”

“Start a swim club and invite Batman; maybe he’ll like me more.” Aquaman

“Spend more time with my family.” Loki

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Loki, “What do you mean, you don’t trust me, brother?”

“Visit my mother more.” Wonder Woman

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Diana, “Mama, I just killed a man…or two or three.”

“Get in touch with my gentler side, and hug people.” Batman

“Take up appliqué sewing.” Thing

“Try and get over my social anxiety and stop hiding.” Invisible Woman

“Try out a better alter-ego disguise.” Superman

“Ditch the tights, too chilly.” Green Arrow

“Quit smoking, drinking and swearing so much.” John Constantine

“Get a shave.” Wolverine

“Get a nice girlfriend and…get laid!” Captain America

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Captain America, “Keep going, no-one suspects you’re running away from girls. Bullets bad, sex scary, bullets bad, sex scary, bullets bad…”

“I am going to start taking out all the movie producers who do not give me film of my own this year. And you know I don’t mean dinner!” Black Widow

“ Make an Iron Woman; so I can get in touch with my feminine side. No, actually, what could be better than making love with me, myself and I.” Tony Stark

“I’m gonna get a kitten and call it Francis, and feed it, and love it, and care for it and pet it. And stop being so sarcastic and pay attention when the bad guy shows up. And make friends with all the strangers I have yet to meet…New Years Resolutions? Get outta here!” Deadpool

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Deadpool, “Hey readers, Alexandra thought she’d just appropriate all our images for your enjoyment. Happy New Year, oh, and play nice.”

Well there you have it folks, resolutions from fourteen of our super heroes, for real!

Happy 2018 Everyone!