“I couldn’t shake the feeling of warm possibility that was unpacking its suitcase inside me, the idea that maybe there was something out there for me after all.”

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno is set in the 1990s and centers around Dana Cartwright, our narrator, who is 18 years old and along with her best friend, Olivia, has just graduated high school. Dana joins Olivia in Orlando for an audition to be a part of a new girl group. Being a singer has always been Olivia’s dream, but the trip to Orlando changes a lot for the girls when Dana’s talent is discovered too. Things begin to shift as the training heats up and nothing will ever be the same for these two best friends as one fights for her dream and the other fights for an escape from their small town life.

I won this advance reader copy through a Spring giveaway, and though I am not obligated to post a review, I thought I would give you my honest opinion all the same. After all, I pretty much do this with every book I read nowadays.

Once again, I actually found myself enjoying young adult fiction. I have, I guess, gotten the chance to read two really good ones in a row, versus a string of not so great ones (which often happens). In any case, I really liked the premise behind this story, though I cannot help but wonder…does starting singing groups really work like that? Did it ever? This is the only kind of unbelievable thing in the book for me. I could get behind the characters and the situations that followed, but that piece rang a little false. Now, this could have ruined the entire book, since it is essentially the backbone, but all I really needed to do was suspend my disbelief, or at least push it away as much as I could, and focused on everything else.

I think Dana’s place in the group of the girls is definitely believable. Everything seemed to be an accident for her, whereas the others have been dreaming about “making it” for years. As such, the resentment, attitude, et cetera emanating from the others make a lot of sense. Of course, there are a few abnormalities in my mind, particularly the ending of training and the novel, but it definitely blends together to form a cohesive narrative.

While the writing quality is by no means sophisticated, it definitely fits in terms of tone and style for a young adult novel. I do not expect it to reach the world-crafting levels of books like Lord of the Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire. I think if you understand the level you are looking at with young adult fiction, you will enjoy Fireworks. I do not know if it exceeds the normal standard, but it meets it for sure, and I enjoyed it.

If you are a fan of the entertainment industry and have even a passing interest in young adult fiction, I would recommend giving Fireworks a try! If you do read it, let me know what you think. Did you see Olivia’s actions at the end surprising or did you see it coming? What would you have done if you were in Dana’s (or Olivia’s) place? What did you think of the other two girls? Leave your thoughts down below. I look forward to hearing from you.


Title: Fireworks

Author: Katie Cotugno

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)


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