Song of the Fireflies - J.A. Redmerski (2014)

The first time nine-year-old Elias Kline meets eight-year-old Brayelle Bates, he's smitten. And the two soon become firm friends. But despite both of them wanting more, Brayelle moves away when it becomes too much for her and although they both try to move on, deep down they've only ever wanted each other. When Bray walks back into Elias' life, he's determined that this time he won't let her go and will stay by her side regardless. And Bray finally feels complete. However, when Bray is implicated in an accident, she's scared of losing Elias for good and decides the only way out is to run. For Elias, there's no alternative, he's going to go with her, never mind the consequences. The start of the novel was great, with Elias and Bray in a convenience store with cops surrounding them, and really seemed to offer something new and different. However, the plot was somewhat convoluted and contrived, with Elias and Bray getting caught up in a variety of mishaps and trouble, and ending up with brothers Tate and Caleb whose own situation they get mixed up in. This whole convergence of narratives felt contrived and deflected from Elias and Bray's story, and at times I felt like I wanted to read Caleb's story more than this one. A simpler narrative focusing on just Elias and Bray would have been preferable. As a character, Bray was also extremely difficult to get a hold on. She's not as rounded or approachable as Elias and whilst a mention of bi-polar was given, which went some way to explain some of her behaviour, it was never really explored. Similarly, there's other threads in her narrative that felt incomplete, including her time away from Elias. Elias, on the other hand, is the archetypal New Adult hero, if anything perhaps a little too zealous in his adoration and perception of Bray. Although the ending felt a bit rushed it was nice to catch up with Elias and Bray several years on, but there were opportunities in this novel for a much richer plot and experience than was pursued. (JC)

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