YA ROMANCE DEBUT: Together We Caught Fire Review

Summary (from the publisher):

42372921._UY2120_SS2120_Lane Jamison’s life is turned upside down the week before her senior year when her father introduces her to his new fiancée: mother of Grey McIntyre, Lane’s longtime secret crush. Now with Grey living in Lane’s house, there’s only a thin wall separating their rooms, making it harder and harder to deny their growing mutual attraction—an attraction made all the more forbidden by Grey’s long-term girlfriend Sadie Hall, who also happens to be Lane’s friend.

Torn between her feelings for Grey and her friendship with Sadie—not to mention her desire to keep the peace at home—Lane befriends Sadie’s older brother, Connor, the black sheep of the strict, evangelical Hall family. Connor, a metalworking artist who is all sharp edges, challenges Lane in ways no one else ever has. As the two become closer and start to open up about the traumas in their respective pasts, Lane begins to question her conviction that Connor is just a distraction.

Tensions come to a head after a tragic incident at a party, forcing Lane to untangle her feelings for both boys and face the truth of what—and who—she wants.

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Everyone knows that I’m always up for a contemporary romance. Eva V. Gibson’s YA debut, Together We Caught Fire, definitely put a unique spin on the genre. High school senior Lane’s life feels turned-upside down once again when her father marries the mother of Lane’s biggest crush, Grey.

Together We Caught Fire is way more than a romance. At the book’s start, there is a warning that there may be some troubling content for readers, including depictions and references death, suicide, cutting, self-harm, nightmares, substance abuse, homelessness, trauma, and PTSD. It feels really important to me to mention these warnings here because Together We Caught Fire is certainly not the lightest read. I’ve personally never encountered these experiences, but there are definitely some hard-to-read and emotionally gripping scenes. Discovering her mother on the bathroom floor at a very young age, Lane is traumatized by her mother’s suicide and almost constantly has nightmares about her mother’s death. Lane battles this trauma and depression throughout the book.

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Together We Caught Fire uses it synopsis as more of an introduction. When the novel begins, Grey and Lane’s parents are already married, the families are moved in together, and Lane is already hanging out with Grey’s girlfriend, Sadie, and Sadie’s brother, Connor. While Lane and Sadie do become friendly, I wouldn’t necessarily say that they are best friends, partly because their personalities really don’t mesh and partly because of Lane’s attraction for Grey. One of the most, if not the most, attention-grabbing element within Together We Caught Fire’s synopsis is Lane’s attraction to her step-brother, Grey. The attraction between the step-siblings is something I haven’t read before in YA. The culmination of Grey and Lane’s attraction for one another really doesn’t occur until the second half of the novel. I admit that I really wasn’t a fan of their relationship nor was I rooting for it. Each of the four teenage characters in Together We Caught Fire is dealing with their own issues: Lane, dealing with her mother’s suicide and trauma, her endometriosis, and her depression; Grey, dealing with his father leaving at an early age and the pressure of his relationship with Sadie; Sadie, the must-be perfect daughter of a religious zealot; and Connor, kicked out of his family for not agreeing with their beliefs, homeless for a period of time and dealing with depression. I really appreciated that Eva V. Gibson was able to provide a wide range of character depictions, but the romantic relationships between one another weren’t exactly the healthiest nor did I really sense chemistry between them.

There were a few elements that I think needed some more development. We know so much about Lane and her experiences, but one thing that was never fully fleshed out were the multiple, not-so-nice references or comments to Lane’s relationship history from the other characters. Readers will know from both from Lane’s insight and the relationships that do take place that she struggles to develop healthy relationships, so that might be explain why her past romantic history wasn’t so fleshed out. Yet, since we learn so much about Lane, I think that part of her history deserved some explanation. Again regarding development, I also didn’t understand why Sadie and Grey were so set on marriage and really didn’t see their chemistry. While Together We Caught Fire deals with heavy subject matter and plot elements, I think the characters, especially Sadie, were melodramatic at times.

Overall, I’d recommend Together We Caught Fire for readers looking for a mature, YA contemporary romance and story that really hasn’t been done before. I think the character and relationship development needed more in certain areas, but I really admire the way Eva V. Gibson depicted such heavy material and issues through multiple characters.

Together We Caught Fire comes out on February 4, 2020.

 This review is based on an advance reader’s copy by the publisher. By no means did receiving this book for review affect my thoughts or opinions.

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Is Together We Caught Fire on your TBR? What YA contemporary and contemporary romance books have you been loving lately? Share in the comments!

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