After the Fire is an emotional roller coaster. It’s a river that sucks you up, bounces you along the bottom, and chucks you through a waterfall.
Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.
But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.
Then came the fire.
This book has an explosive start. Almost literally, there is a fire at the beginning. But if you think you’ve seen the likes of this book, or even the emotional highs, you are so wrong. This book will take all the emotions in your heart and wring you out to dry. We go from hope, to joy, all the way to sadness, and isolation, through anger, and betrayal. And even though I feel emotional scraped raw by this book, I’d do it all over again.
After the Fire is an emotional book about having to find your voice. And what that truly means.
We feel Moonbeams conflicted heart. The whole cult setting isn’t over done, it isn’t sensationalized for the point of drama, and it doesn’t feel dramatized. The words, the evolution of the cult, and the fear/safety, feels all very genuine and real. I never felt like I was watching one of those docudramas where they do those over the top re-enactments.
After the Fire is written with chapters in the past and the present. With Moonbeams memories peeking through, hiding, and swimming to the surface. These sections bring everything into sharp relief and confused edges. It takes a while for the full scope, for the pieces to click together, but you love watching the pieces click together.
In the way you love to hate that feeling in a movie when the characters are ripping your heart out.
The memories almost pull you along, unwilling, like you’re being tethered in the fog. It allows us to see the way things shifted from before and after the fire. It moves us in time periods to see what really happened. How things changed. When the Sparks began, how they remained burning unseen, and when they burned into existence.
Because of this genuine setting, Moonbeam’s character shines. We are able to see the ways in which the rhetoric is morphed to fulfill what they think, to make it serve those around you. Throughout the book we are able to see how the thought patterns shift, how Moonbeam comes to trust her own voice.
This only makes the journey, Moonbeam’s character evolution, even more heartbreaking. This is heart wrenching in places, soft wounds the words expose, pulsing anger hidden behind walls, and pain thinly veiled. While there’s a strong pull of action and mystery surrounding what happened, I read because I wanted to see the emotional journey of Moonbeam.