I loved Between Us and the Moon, Maizel’s first YA contemporary, so I took the chance to read this one without even reading the synopsis fully (and because look at the pretty cover!)… Which is how I was completely shocked by the whole lightning strike thing. I was afraid for what that would do to the rest of the story – I didn’t want it to turn supernatural or super cheesy or weird – but I needn’t have been afraid. It somehow stayed realistic and contemporary despite having far-fetched circumstances, and the overall story was fascinating.
The book starts out at the end of Penny’s sophomore year, where she’s a star in her school’s theater department and is surrounded by great friends. Her home life, though, is in turmoil as her mom struggles with depression and alcoholism and her dad deals with it by retreating into his work, leaving Penny pretty much alone. Rather than turning to her friends for support, Penny closes herself off to them, quits theater because she doesn’t want to be in the spotlight anymore, and sort of accidentally falls in with the popular crowd where she’s able to be a shadow of her new BFF. At a party a little over a year later, Penny is struck by lightning, which affects her memory. When she wakes up in the hospital, she can’t remember anything from before she quit theater… which means she has to work through the way she hurt her theater friends in sophomore year, the popular crowd who she doesn’t remember being friends with at all, and all the changes in her family.
Penny’s a great and sincerely honest protagonist. Any real teenage girl who found herself in Penny’s situation would be whiny and confused and worried, as Penny was, but she wasn’t overly pitiful. She came through her ordeal as a strong girl and allowed the difficulty in her life to make her even stronger in the end.
I absolutely loved the cast of supporting characters, too. Wes, May, Panda, Richard, and Kylie were all very real and relatable. And Wes? Well, he was downright swoon worthy despite his sometimes awkwardness. I do wish that there had been a little more resolution with Penny’s parents in the end, but I suppose not every part of a story necessarily gets a neat and clean ending.
Also, I kept trying to figure out if I was supposed to read more into the fireflies – what they were symbolic of, if they were connected to Midsummer, how they related to Penny, if they were from the lightning Storm that struck Penny – I eventually gave up and tried to ignore the creepy crawly feeling I got when the characters talked about being outside with so many bugs. I do wish their purpose had been a little more clearly connected to the rest of the story.
All in all, though, A Season for Fireflies was sweet and fun and interesting. I started and finished it in one day because I was so caught up in Penny’s story. Definitely recommended! Find it here on Amazon or at your local bookseller.