What a difference 24 hours makes. Rose Whitfield can tell you that life can go from blissful to inconceivable in just a few short hours. One day she’s the popular head cheerleader with the sweetest boyfriend and most awesome best friend. The next, she’s been arrested for arson. She didn’t do it, but apparently those that believe her are few and far between. Known for her pranks, no one trusts Rose when she says she didn’t set fire to her own boyfriend’s parents’ boat. Including her boyfriend, unfortunately. Then the police show her photos of her boyfriend with a girl from school and say they know Rose was retaliating. Rose knows it can’t be true, that he’s cheating on her; but he won’t return her calls.
Rose has been feuding with Paxton Callaway since he poured juice down her front at a middle school dance. Which was weird and unexpected, since they used to be inseparable friends. Ever since, they have been torturing each other with crazy stunts that sometimes unintentionally have collateral damage. They pretend to tolerate each other since their parents are good friends, but things take a weird turn when Paxton becomes the only person who believes that she didn’t set the fire. And then he offers to help her find the person who framed her. Even though Rose knows he did it.
The quest to prove her innocence leads her to face some truths that are a little uncomfortable. Is her father’s job more important than her innocence? Why does her mother disappear whenever anything unpleasant happens? Why did her boyfriend believe that she had done this heinous crime without even talking to her? Is her best friend a little less awesome and a little more unforgiving than she thought? Are there people at school who have a legitimate gripe with Rose? And what about Paxton? Had they been feuding for so long that he went too far?
Indie writers and self-publishers are many; it’s the good ones that are few. I have read quite a bit of stuff that has not traveled through mainstream publishing, and many times, my time’s been the poorer for it. Though I may be a little more critical of these writings, I certainly don’t go out of my way to find fault because I LOVE A GOOD BOOK. So many stories out there are not, in my opinion, ready to be consumed by the general public but are shoved out the door like parents ready for an empty nest. So, you can understand why I get a little giddy when I read something self-published that is “just as good” as any book put out by HarperCollins or Random House. Andrea Lynn Colt has written a novel that is engrossing, resonant and honest.
This is more than your typical fighters become lovers or misunderstanding = romance. Rose has to face some things about herself that she probably would rather not. The issues that the secondary characters have give a depth to and round out the story that could have just been a shallow tale of a girl’s quest to clear her name with a little making out on the side (not that there’s anything wrong with that). When the chips are down, who can you count on? Do you stop and think about how something flippant could feel a lot more serious to someone else? That it doesn’t matter how you meant something, it’s how it’s perceived? There’s a lot of growing up that happens to many of the characters that makes the emotions ring true. And, just like real life, not everyone wants to go there and bare all.
I knew I was hooked when I had to put the book down to work on something else and I kept wondering how soon I was going to be able to get back into the story. I had to know what was going to happen and how it was going to be resolved. And yes, I did have to use a couple (four) tissues. So, kudos to you, Ms. Colt; and here’s hoping your book gets the notice it deserves.
Awesome cover, too.
4 of 5 Stars (Based on Ink and Page’s Rating System)
Genres: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance
Ages: 14 and up
You might want to know: Some mild profanity, sexual discussion, underage drinking
Torched by Andrea Lynn Colt was published September 8, 2012 by Andrea Lynn Colt. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review.