Who by Fire by Diana Spechler 368 pages Fiction Harper Perennial
When Ash and Bits where young children their sister Alena was kidnapped. Since then the kidnapping has torn their family apart and brought them to different methods of dealing with the grief, guilt and pain of loosing their sister, and daughter. Bits runs to men whenever she is sad, Ash scurries to religion, living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel in hopes that it will fill his gap and their mother's outlet is blame. She blames herself, and guilts her other children because they do not perform the way that she would like them to, they just can't fill that void that her youngest daughter, her favourite daughter left. For years, even decades the pain has formed wedges between them all, pushing and pulling them further and further apart. Will a sudden protectiveness arise within them when they feel someone on the outside is threatening their family?
Who by Fire is a tightly knit net of interactions and paths that cross and intersect and dodge each other. The book had its clenching grip on me the whole way through, I could relate to pieces of each of the characters. I do recommend it, I enjoyed it and it took me through the emotions a long with it. I felt the writing was precise and while not stunningly beautiful, it was practical and felt just right for the book. I was never distracted by cliche or bored by descriptions, so yes the writing was very good.
This is certainly a book for most people, but it would especially strike a chord for those who have suffered loss and learned, or have yet to learn how to cope with the loss endured. As dark as this book could have been, it wasn't, somehow through the whole reading I felt an underlying stream of hope and perseverance. Who by Fire is not flavoured by sad and depressed draining feelings, but of a changing life and the acts that futures are made of. Read it and you'll be glad that you did.