A year ago, Penny Berne was the star of her high school’s theater department, surrounded by a group of misfit friends and falling in love for the first time. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, her new best friend is the most popular girl in school, and her first love, Wes, ignores her. Penny is revered and hated. Then, in a flash, a near-fatal lightning strike leaves Penny with no memory of the past year—or how she went from drama nerd to queen bee.
As a record number of fireflies light up her town and her life, Penny realizes she may be able to make things right again—and that even if she can’t change the past, she can learn to see the magic where she never could before.
A Season of Fireflies is a book about redemption and second chances. It’s a short and summery +read if you’re looking for a quick contemporary but if you’re after something emotional with lots of character development, I think you’ll be disappointed.
This story follows Penny, a sophomore in high school who is dealing with some problems at home. Her mother is an alcoholic and it’s tearing her family apart and ruining her friendships as she tries to hide this secret from those around her. She ends up ditching her group of friends and hanging out with the popular girl at school, who doesn’t try to get her to spill her secrets. But when Penny gets struck by lightning and loses over a year’s worth of memories, she doesn’t recognise the person she currently is and realises that she may be able to make things right again.
I thought the redemption arc in this book could have been a lot stronger. The book felt very rushed and unfocused and I didn’t really see that much development in Penny. This was probably due, in part, to the fact that she had no memories of the past year and had no idea who she became after the incident that causes her to ditch all her friends. Therefore, she kind of had more of a blank slate to work with and didn’t have all that great character development that I always look for in these types of books. I also felt that there were some things that were not resolved very well. The novel has a big focus on Penny’s mother’s alcoholism but I didn’t feel that this was explored particularly well. It was definitely just used as a plot device and wasn’t given the attention that the issue deserved. I also didn’t really understand the role of the fireflies in this book. It kind of flew over my head and I didn’t understand the symbolism or why they were in the book.
On top of that, I thought that there were some things that were a bit too unrealistic for my liking. Penny ignores and behaves terribly towards her friends after just one incident. She turns into a completely different person after that single occurrence and I found it a little bit hard to believe. This was exacerbated a little bit by the fact that the transitions in the story were quite poor in my opinion. I never got a good sense of who Penny was before this incident that caused her to lose her friends and I had no idea who Penny was during the time when she had a different group of friends. My overall opinion on the plot is that the book is missing 100-150 pages. It needed more exploration of issues and better plot and character development.
I didn’t really connect with Penny as a main character. I never got a true sense of who she was because there were so many different versions of her in the book. I thought she was quite dislikable at the start of the novel and, while she did kind of redeem herself towards the end, there wasn’t enough growth in her character for me to fully connect with her and root for her. I did like some of the side characters but the book was so short that I didn’t really get a chance to know them. I enjoyed the romance between Wes and Penny but also felt that it was underdeveloped and resolved a bit too quickly.
Overall, while I did enjoy the reading experience and thought it was cute summery read, there were a lot of aspects that were lacking for me. I thought the book just needed to be longer in general so that we could get more development and resolution.