Review: Year on Fire by Julie Buxbaum

Year on Fire by Julie Buxbaum

Year on Fire
Julie Buxbaum
Delacorte Press
Published April 5, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Year on Fire

Can a single kiss change everything?

It was a year on fire. They fell in love. Someone was bound to get burned.

The Spark: Just days before the start of junior year for twins Arch and Immie and their best friend, Paige, a spontaneous kiss shakes the very foundation of their friendship. But some ties run too deep to be broken by accidental betrayal.

The Fuel: Enter Rohan, new to Wood Valley High by way of London, who walks into school on the first day completely overwhelmed by his sudden move halfway around the world. When Paige calls dibs on him—he’s too cute to ignore—Immie is in no position to argue, certainly not after taking the fall for the disloyal kiss. Too bad for Immie that Ro feels like the best kind of familiar.

The Kindling: Former lab partners Arch and Jackson, Paige’s ex-boyfriend, have never considered themselves more than friends. But sometimes feelings can grow like wildfire.

The Flames: When the girls’ bathroom at Wood Valley is set ablaze, no one doubts it’s arson. But in this bastion of privilege, who’d be angry enough to want to burn down the school? Answer: pretty much everyone.

YEAR ON FIRE explores the blinding power of the lies we tell others and those we tell ourselves, the tight grip of family secrets, the magic of first love, and the grounding beauty of friendship.

Year on Fire on Goodreads

My Review

I loved this book for its complicated relationships, the unspoken fears, the drama of falling in love unexpectedly, and the celebration of the close bond of siblings. The writing also swept me away. It’s lyrical and gorgeous and there were so many lines I wanted to sit and savor.

I can’t even choose a favorite character because I liked them all. Ha. I loved the way that Arch and Immie related to each other. It was so comforting to them when they were on the same page about something and so frightening when they weren’t. I was captivated by Ro’s feelings about his parents and the uncertainty of their future as well as feeling helpless and like he had no say in moving to Los Angeles from London.

The whole story sort of circles around fires at school and rumors about who set them. I liked the way that plot slowly unspooled in the midst of all the friendship drama and tension. I felt like it was paced really well– this was a book that I read in two sittings but would have read in one if I hadn’t started the first few chapters at midnight the night before I finished it.

All in all, I think fans of WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart or WE ARE THE GOLDENS by Dana Reinhardt will love this book.

Year on Fire on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

YEAR ON FIRE is told from four points of view: Immie and Arch are twins. Arch is gay. Paige is “three quarters Jewish American and a quarter Chinese American.” Rohan is from England and is maybe Indian.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two boys. Kissing between a girl and boy.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Someone starts several fires at school. Arch and Immie’s dad becomes violently angry at home.

Drug Content
References to teens drinking alcohol.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of YEAR ON FIRE in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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