Book Review: Wildfire
Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha
A romantic coming-of-age drama that contemplates love, hate, and loss
There is a thin line between love and hate. Wildfire by Adriana Gisselle explores this beautifully. Going beyond the love-hate relationship of the leads, Gisselle delves into somber and big-hearted themes such as loss, growing up, and finding yourself.
Catherine and Rubio have hated each other since eighth grade. And they both lead distinct lifestyles. Catherine is smart, pretty, rich, and with a perfect set of parents. Everything about her screams, “Perfect.” And then, there’s Rubio. He is not so smart, not so rich, and has to act as a parental figure to his younger siblings because of his absent parents. These people are considerably different from each other.
Rubio hates Catherine’s perfect life; Catherine hates his nonchalance. But when Catherine’s perfect world crumbles, the two foes find comfort in each other’s grief. Rubio must learn some new truths, and Catherine must unlearn some of her set rules.
The story begins with a familiar thirteen-year-old hate. There’s light banter between the two, lacking any real malice, but the hate turns darker as they grow up transitioning from their teenage years into adulthood. Gisselle has captured that transition with such flair. The raw feelings expressed—turning from hatred to desire and care—is wonderfully captured.
At its core, the story holds an important message—nobody knows what’s going on in the lives of the people around them, so it is wise to take a moment before judging someone harshly. It is so poignantly displayed here. The story then deals with topics such as loss and grief, shifting from the initial light theme of the book. The darker themes have been dealt with great sensibility too.
Even though the story follows the trope of enemies to lovers, it is not loud about it. It is a slow burn that allows the readers to acknowledge what’s happening inside the characters’ heads. All the characters are well-rounded, flawed and human. What’s best about Gisselle’s writing is that the character arc is not just for the two main characters; it is for all the supporting characters as well. They play such an important part in the narrative.
Wildfire has contradictions within itself, just like its two main characters. It is fast to read but entangles you in a slow burn. While there is lightheartedness in the banter between Rubio and Catherine, there is depth in their grief. There is complexity in the simplicity of Gisselle’s writing. It’s a refreshing approach.
This beautiful coming-of-age drama contemplates how fickle life can be, crumbling a seemingly perfect life and rebuilding it again. Anyone having difficulty finding themselves or coping with a personal loss would find themselves in this book.
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Print Length: 324 pages
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