Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they’ll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen.Pepper Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer . . . or fail out of school.And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.When Molly gets a package leading her to Pepper, they’re tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava’s diary for clues, Molly and Pepper realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.
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The Arsonist Review
- June 24, 2015EllaSo after finishing the amazingness that was Minnow Bly...I NEED THIS.
- May 1, 2015Wendy DarlingI CAN'T WAIT.
- February 18, 2017R.J.[NOTE: This review is based on an Advanced Reading Copy and contains no deliberate spoilers.]From now on, any time I hear somebody claim that YA is not complex, thoughtful or literary I am going to smack them about the head and shoulders with a copy of this book. THE ARSONIST is literary in all the best senses of the word. Smart, searching, inventive, beautifully written and characterized, funny (as in genuinely, unexpectedly witty and sometimes straight-up hilarious, especially the sections nar [NOTE: This review is based on an Advanced Reading Copy and contains no deliberate spoilers.]From now on, any time I hear somebody claim that YA is not complex, thoughtful or literary I am going to smack them about the head and shoulders with a copy of this book. THE ARSONIST is literary in all the best senses of the word. Smart, searching, inventive, beautifully written and characterized, funny (as in genuinely, unexpectedly witty and sometimes straight-up hilarious, especially the sections narrated by Pepper), poignant, multilayered and fascinating. It deals with big, serious themes but doesn't get bogged down by them; it believably touches on all the standard facets of adolescent life (school, friends, romance) without limiting itself; it's a gripping Cold War drama and a psychological study (or several) and a daring adventure and a murder mystery thriller all at once without any of those elements feeling shortchanged in the process. If this weren't enough, Stephanie Oakes manages the virtuoso feat of creating not one, not even two, but three distinct first-person narrators whose voices and personalities are completely different from one another, and each of whom has an equally interesting story to tell.If that weren't enough to recommend the book, Ibrahim "Pepper" Al-Yusef has now become one of my favorite adolescent boy characters of all time. Trust me on this one. (Also, his dog is hilarious.)I would particularly recommend this book to high school teachers looking for strong, multifaceted teen fiction with a historical component (agh, the 1980's are history now I feel so old), big themes, and lots of scope for analysis and discussion. If I had to give a "content warning" I'd advise that there's the occasional bit of crude adolescent boy-type humour, a few swear words, and a couple of graphic descriptions of violence, but none of it was pervasive or worse than many other books teens are usually given to read in high school (if anything it's probably better).N.B. For those interested in diversity, Molly is strongly implied to be asexual; Pepper is Kuwaiti Arab and has a service dog for his epileptic seizures; and there are several sympathetic and non-stereotypical characters with mental illnesses.more
- November 21, 2016Frances BahrThe Arsonist might be the best book I've read in 2016. The story takes place in two settings, Monterey, California, in the present, and East Berlin before the fall of the wall. The protagonists are two daughters desperately looking for their mothers and struggling to understand how their lives intersect. Oakes writes prose with a stylistic flair I've not seen before. You really must add The Arsonist to your reading list!more
- October 28, 2016Rachel LightwoodI literally cannot breathe... I'm so excited.
- November 12, 2016Anis AthirahWow. Just wow. That description itself is so beautiful.
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