Goodreads: Fire Color One
Source: For review
Published: January 31, 2017
A father and daughter reconnect after a life spent apart to find their mutual love of art isn’t the only thing they share.
Sixteen-year-old Iris itches constantly for the strike of a match. But when she’s caught setting one too many fires, she’s whisked away to London before she can get arrested—at least that’s the story her mother tells. Mounting debt actually drove them out of LA, and it’s greed that brings them to a home Iris doesn’t recognize, where her millionaire father—a man she’s never met—lives. Though not for much longer.
Iris’s father is dying, and her mother is determined to claim his life’s fortune, including his priceless art collection. Forced to live with him as part of an exploitive scheme, Iris soon realizes her father is far different than the man she’s been schooled to hate, and everything she thought she knew—about her father and herself—is suddenly unclear. There may be hidden beauty in Iris’s uncertain past, and future, if only she can see beyond the flames.
Fire Color One introduces readers to a teenage girl who finds calm in lighting fires. While her mother and her mother’s boyfriend keep searching for their big break in the entertainment business, Iris is just trying to keep going and enjoy life. So when her mother declares they’ll be visiting her estranged father to make a stab at the inheritance, Iris is less than pleased at being pulled into her mother’s latest scheme, until she she realizes her father isn’t quite the man she expected.
Although the book is ostensibly focused on family, and I was looking forward to a story about a father and his daughter reconnecting and forming a bond, I actually thought the book was more invested in plot than character development. The book is mostly told out of chronological order, with Iris reflecting on her life and the events that finally brought her to her estranged father’s estate as he lies on his deathbed. The moments when Iris and her father speak are moving but relatively few. It’s perhaps more about just Iris than Iris and her father. Additionally, the book really wants to get readers to the ending. I don’t want get into the realm of spoilers, but the end, the point of this all, seemed to be really about action and plot and not about family relationships.
The characters themselves are interesting, but sometimes flat–some of them seem more like scenery for the plot than like actual people. Iris’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend are perhaps the worst offenders. I believe there are extremely shallow people in the world who make terrible parents as they focus only on themselves, so that’s fine. (Well, it’s sad.) However, these two characters are over-the-top. Iris describes them as people who literally can’t move two steps in a room without finding the patch of floor with the best lighting for their faces and striking a pose. They can’t leave the house without taking five centuries to prepare. They can’t last more than two and a half minutes before they call someone to talk about themselves. This is all entertaining, but they don’t necessarily seem like realistically fake people to me.
However, I’ll take it. Everyone in the book is larger-than-life with a wild backstory and personality. It’s fun. Iris’s friend, a mysterious performance artist who spouts wisdom about the world, is particularly compelling. But even Iris’s father, who self-describes himself as a boring homebody, has had some interesting adventures in life. So this book isn’t about average people. But it’s about interesting people, and that’s a good feature of a story any day.
Bottom line: I liked it. It’s unique. The story combines several unusual elements–art, arson, family secrets–into one and becomes utterly engrossing.