Review: A Firefighter's Fame by Dani Hart

A Firefighter's Flame - Dani Hart

Initial reaction: Tough subject matter based on author's experiences, but the poor quality of the narration and disjointed organization of the narrative frustrated me greatly.

Full review:

Quick review for a not-so-quick read. Matter in point, this book was so hard for me to get through that I had to pick it up and put it down several times. I wasn't sure if I would finish it, it frustrated me so much.

The problem wasn't the tough subject matter in itself. Lennox (Len), the main character, is a woman with many issues: suffering from bipolar disorder, having post-partum depression, dealing with a marriage on the rocks, her on again/off again relationship with her best friend, among other things.

The problem I had was the extremely poor presentation of all these things in the narrative. The writing left much to be desired. I felt like it was oversimplifying Len's ordeals and making them far more shallow than they should've been. I felt like the way the author chose to present these details was an odd combination of telegraphing the emotions the character felt (which feels like you're being talked down to as a reader, taking away any suspense or intimacy that could be ascertained from the narrative itself) and also the organization was pretty much anything goes. The narrative had a wayward way of jumping from the past to the present and to different points in time without any rhyme or reason to them. It wasn't very well organized and pulled me out of the story more often than not. This was definitely a problem in the first half of the story, so much that I almost put the title down. But it was only after about 50% when I realized "Ah, okay, the emotional quality is evening out a little - the author's not telling these details as much and I can see why Len feels the way she does." But those key moments were shortlived as it ceded back to the familiar and gave me a rollercoaster ride of difficulty getting through the narrative again.

There's a reason why the cardinal rules of writing are "show, don't tell" and "less is more." This narrative, despite showing a very flawed heroine dealing with a very weighted history of contradictions, mental illness, deceptions, among other things, felt undersold to me by its lacking presentation. I probably would've valued it more if it had been more intimate with the character perspective and less "telling" for details. Overall, I really didn't care for the read and it saddens me because I could value a good narrative which explores a raw, honest look at mental illness. Unfortunately, with its respective sloppy presentations and biases, I couldn't see many merits over the flaws here.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.