For Girls Who Walk Through Fire by Kim DeRose
Coming September 26th, 2023 from Union Square & Co.; 320 pages
Content warnings: Sexual assault, langauge, violence, discussion of suicide, death of parent, misogyny, racism
About the Author: “Kim DeRose writes dark, magical stories about strong, magical girls.
She grew up in Santa Barbara, California, where she spent childhood summers reading books and writing stories (which she was convinced her local bookstore would publish). She now lives in New York City, where she spends all seasons reading books and writing stories.
Kim earned her MFA in film directing from UCLA, and currently works in digital media.
When she’s not reading or writing she can be found listening to podcasts on long walks, drinking endless cups of coffee, and spending time with her family.
She is represented by Kathryn Green of Kathryn Green Literary Agency. For Girls Who Walk Through Fire is her debut novel” (Bio from author’s website).
Find Kim DeRose on the following platforms:
Elliot wants revenge. In the aftermath of the assault that has drastically altered the course of her life, she is tired of just talking and wants to take action into her own hands. To do this, Elliot decides to team up with three other girls from her survivor support group: Madeline, Chloe, and Bea. Seeing a similar spirit in these girls, Elliot forms a coven with them, aided by a mysterious spell book she discovered in her late mother’s possession. The girls each take turns using the book to hex their assailants and acquire justice. However, as their magic progresses, they must deal with the ramifications that come with seeking revenge.
For Girls Who Walk Through Fire is a moving and emotional portrait of trauma, healing, and girlhood. DeRose’s book highlights the power of female relationships, and the connection forged between Chloe, Bea, Madeline, and Elliot is made all the more powerful by the diversity of their perspectives. Initially seeming to have very little in common, these girls forge a bond ignited by their collective rage and desire for justice. While this bond is created in the spirit of revenge, it is strengthened and maintained by their vulnerability with one another.
Bound together by a magical spellbook, each girl sets out to curse the man who has assaulted them. I was hesitant to embrace the vigilante spirit that underpins the beginning of the novel, concerned about the message that Elliot promotes: revenge through violence is the only way to heal from trauma. However, as the novel progresses, Elliot and the rest of her “coven” undergo beautiful character development that transforms how they view healing.
In a story at times so bleak, some things I found incredibly heartwarming were the relationships between characters. Elliot’s relationship with her father provides particularly emotional and touching moments in the novel as well. The girls’ resolutions are ongoing but satisfying, as each of them show progress in their paths to healing. I appreciated the parallels that the end of the novel drew to the beginning, especially with Elliot back in the support group but having shed her bitterness in favor of a desire to do good.
I would recommend this book to all young adult readers, as it offers an important and moving portrayal of the struggles and power inherent in being a woman and the strength it takes to heal.
(Pine Reads Review would like to thank SparkPoint Studio, NetGalley, and Union Square & Co. for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.)
Sam Parker, Pine Reads Review Writer