I received a copy of this book for free through NetGalley
**Contains minor spoilers – read with caution**
Ha, this opens with a bang…literally.
Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him-and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.
“Sometimes in life you have to go for what you want. It’s pretty freeing, actually. In the best-case scenario, things work out. And in the worst-case scenario, you set the girl’s lawn on fire and make the evening news.”
Our main man Hank is 17 and trying to do something really sweet for the girl he likes…he is trying to create the perfect promposal. Now I don’t live in the States so I didn’t even know that this was a massive thing but as it turns out, asking someone to prom is best done when it is a huge spectacle.
Anyway, his brilliant idea is to spell it out on her front lawn using sparklers – totally romantic right? Wrong! Not only does she not realise who he is, but he accidentally sets her lawn and inadvertently a very flammable tree on fire in her front yard. Nearly burning down a girls house is not the best way to get someone’s attention, unless you live in a YA novel.
Hank of course flees the scene but realises he has accidentally left on of the sparkler boxes behind at her house. When he returns to Amanda’s house, he is greeted not by the girl of his dreams but rather a strange girl named Peyton – who just so happens to have a thing for pyromaniacs. Cue strange romance.
“Everybody needs somebody who gets their kind of crazy, right? That doesn’t come along everyday.”
Hank’s home life is a little rough to say the least. His mum and brother are both dead and he lives with his alcoholic father – who has no patience – and his exotic dancing girlfriend Monica. I really liked Monica a lot and she seemed to be more like an older sister than a father figure. The relationship Hank has with her is really sweet and while he isn’t able to confide in his father, it was nice to see that the two were able to share a loving bond. His dad starts out to be basically the worst but by the end he finds his own redemption story and the two share some tender moments.
Hank is also a super-nerd who loves superheroes and has his own comic book called Freeze Frame which he started with his brother Mickey and he continues to create in his honour – plus he straight up loves it.
Oh Peyton, our lovable messed up love interest. Peyton comes from a shitty family and is dealing with her own issues on the side. She initially takes an interest in Hank because she is a bit of a pyromaniac and the whole, setting Amanda’s lawn on fire thing peaks her interest, but the more Hank pays attention to her as an equal, the more she cements him as her rock. I really like Peyton and I think she is a great representation of misguided intentions.
As the story progresses and the two characters become closer, we start to see Peyton’s stories – and subsequent lies – unravel to reveal a heartbreaking truth. There is a level of depth to this character that I hadn’t expected but really enjoyed and I was especially impressed with the way that Reul handled her flaws.
The only reason I’m not able to give this book a few more stars is because I did feel that some scenes were a little rushed. Overall though, this book was a fantastic combination of hilarious and sad.
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