Well, this book irritated me more than any in recent memory. Before I get going on my rant, in the interest of being fair, I’ll start off by mentioning two things the book did well. First, the writing itself was well done. Second, the banter between Pearl and her cousin was pretty amusing.
Then the wildfires strike. Fallbrook—the town of marigolds and palms, blood oranges and sweet limes—is threatened by the Agua Prieta fire, and a mandatory evacuation order is issued. But Pearl knows that Amiel is in the direct path of the fire, with no one to warn him, no way to get out. Slipping away from safety and her family, Pearl moves toward the dark creek, where the smoke has become air, the air smoke.
But now I’m done being fair. Pearl was just totally and completely an unsympathetic character. She started off fine—not particularly charismatic, but not especially annoying either. But then, when her obsessive crush on Amiel starts, man did she drive me crazy. I mean first of all, she knows nothing about him and they don’t have any complete conversations in the entire book. They don’t even speak the same language. Second, Amiel doesn’t actually seem that into her—she’s the one who’s always tracking him down. Not to mention the fact that he’s an illegal immigrant, so her always trying to get involved with him probably puts him in increased danger. But does Pearl care about any of this? Nope. She’s off in her naïve fantasy land where everything revolves around her.
And don’t even get me started on all the bad decisions Pearl makes once the fire starts. If there was ever a character I wish I could shake some sense into, it would be Pearl. Every single choice she makes about the fire is the wrong one, and the things she does in those last chapters are what finally irrevocably clinched my frustration with the book, because her selfishness hurts others, and that’s much harder for me to forgive than her simply being a starry-eyed 15-year-old.
And to top it all off, the final chapter is the worst of them all because (Spoilers) Pearl makes plans to go to Mexico to find Amiel. I mean, come on! Besides the fact that their relationship existed mostly in her head to start with, what does she think she’s going to do once she finds him? Live happily ever after in poverty in Mexico? Her big plan is for him to become a famous mime, for pete’s sake. A MIME! I don’t really trust her judgement. (End spoilers) (And end rant).
Overall, not the book for me. I’ll reiterate that the writing was nicely done, but man oh man did Pearl seriously make me mad.
Rating: 2 / 5