Name: The Arsonist
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: Dial Books
Format: Paperback ARC
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Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they’ll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen.
Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer . . . or fail out of school.
And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.
When Molly gets a package leading her to Pepper, they’re tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava’s diary for clues, Molly and Pepper realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.
KEY WORDS: Adventure, Thriller, Mystery, Berlin Wall, Cold War, Friendship, Family.
*I received an Advanced Proof Copy of this novel at YALC in exchange for an honest review*
From the very first page, Molly Mavity had me hooked. The book tells the story of three people whose lives become inextricably linked one summer when Molly and Pepper are thrown together to discover the mystery of who killed Ava Dreyman, “the Anne Frank of the Cold War”.
The tale of all three characters are intricately interwoven through Molly’s letter’s to Pepper as he lies in a coma, Pepper’s emails to Mrs Eldridge in order to not flunk out of High School and Ava’s diary entries from 1986-1989. Oakes expertly weaves these stories, leaving the reader hanging on the edge of their seat for answers. Who was Ava Dreyman? Why is Pepper in hospital? What happened to Molly’s mother? And so many others…
I was sucked into the mystery from start to finish, making up my own conclusions and solutions as I went, doubting myself at every next turn.
Through all the mystery and intrigue, there are lessons to be learnt from the fictional revolutionary, Ava, and her mother, the original Arsonist. This book touched my heart and set it on fire, we must fight everyday in the world for freedom for ourselves, our fellow human beings and for the future generations. I am lucky enough to be living in a country where, while we have our issues, they are not as serious as other places in the world. I am priviledged. My civil liberties are not being directly threatened every day. Even if you live somewhere where people of colour are not being killed daily, where trangender people are being denied the right to work in the armed forces, where the LGBTQ+ community are not being persecuted for being who they are and loving who they love, fight. Keep fighting. Keeping lighting fires.
“When they lock you in the darkness, become an arsonist. When they put you under house arrest, or defile your name in public, or make you live beneath the rules that suffocate you, become an arsonist. When they put a pistol in your hands and make you shoot your best friend, and when they throw you in a death camp, when you see everyone around you get sick from the poison they’re feeding them, light a fire that will destroy them. A fire they won’t forget the next time they try to do it to someone else.”
Mirka Dreyman in ‘The Arsonist’ by Stephanie Oakes