Book Review: Fireworks

Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Page Count: 336
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Fiction

Olivia and Dana have been best friends for as long as they can remember. The girls have the sort of friendship that can weather any storm, but things are about to change now that high school is over.

 Growing up in a small town in southern Georgia with an alcoholic mother hasn't given Dana a lot to hope for once she graduates high school. She doesn't have any plans other than finding a waitressing job and trying to avoid marrying a local guy. While she's fairly sure she won't be getting out of Jessell, she doesn't want to settle for marrying a local guy and turning into her mother. On the other hand, Olivia comes from a stable family who has always supported her dream of becoming a professional singer. Olivia has been performing her whole life and knows that fame is in her future. She won't accept anything less.

When auditions for a new pop group are held in Orlando, Olivia jumps at the chance to make her dreams come true. Dana wants Olivia to succeed, but she worries that everything will be different once the girls no longer share the same zip-code. Even if Olivia doesn't land a spot in the group, she will be heading to Statesboro to attend Georgia Southern University. Olivia manages to talk Dana into going with her to Orlando and Dana is pulled into auditioning as well. Dana has never wanted fame or to be a performer, but when both girls are chosen to be in the girl band, Daisy Chain, she learns that maybe she does have what it takes to become a superstar and get out of Jessell.

Along the way, Dana and Olivia will soon learn that friendship isn't always smooth sailing, sometimes it comes with harsh currents and rocky shallows. The girls will find themselves in competition over guys, singing, dancing, and fame on more than one occasion throughout the novel. Is their friendship strong enough to survive or will the possibility of becoming the next big pop star rip the girls apart?

As someone who was a teen during the late 90's, I loved that the novel was set during this time when there was a huge pop group craze. It brought back nostalgia of all the hours I spent listening to N*Sync and dreaming of being in a pop group. The fact that I can't dance was a minor glitch with this dream, but I figured I could learn. In some ways, I was like Dana in this respect. I admired her tenacity when someone told her she wasn't good at something. She put in extra time and persevered so that she would improve. As a teen, I never stopped to think about how the pop groups were formed or what their life was like beyond the stage. After reading Fireworks, I have a deeper appreciation for all the hard work that goes into having a successful entertainment career, but I am not one bit sad that this was only a pipe dream for me.

There are a few R rated moments in this one, but due to the age of the characters I didn't find it out of place, but I can't say I was expecting it either. There was one particular scene that made me blush and feel uncomfortable; it would have caused the same reaction in an adult novel. In some ways, Fireworks veers into New Adult territory. I also could have done with a little less drinking and weed, but again, this is a personal preference.

Fireworks is a fun read for anyone who grew up in the 90's or those who enjoy realistic fiction that focuses on friendship and romance. It will be a great summer read for those days next to the pool or while you have your toes covered the sand. This is not my favorite Cotugno novel, that is still reserved for How to Love, but I did enjoy my time in Dana's world. I can say with all certainty that I will always pick up a new Cotugno novel. 

One Last Gripe: I had heard the Orlando setting was fabulous in this one, but I felt like I didn't get to experience it much because Olivia and Dana were always at the apartment or the studio.

Favorite Thing About This Book: Dana's character growth

First Sentence: Jonah Royce threw a rager in the field behind his stepdad's house the night after high school graduation, which is why Olivia and I were both so unbelievably hungover on the afternoon everything changed.

Favorite Character: Dana

Least Favorite Character: Olivia

From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-'90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along. 

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing. 

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through. 

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.