The Possibility of Fireflies
Pulse, 2007 (2006)
Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai
llie and her older sister Gwen are the new girls in town, and this is not their first move in the last couple of years. The girls have been living with their mother since their father walked out on them. Ellie's mother is having a hard time accepting the separation, and constantly takes out her anger and frustration on the girls, both verbally and physically. Ellie, who is a poet at heart, manages to retreat into her inner space to avoid conflict; her sister, however, is of a different temperament, boldly facing antagonism with her own feelings – she's an in-your-face teenager, running with the wrong crowd, determined to get into trouble and push her mother's buttons.
llie is quieter and has managed to make one friend at this new school. At fourteen, Ellie is immature physically, still growing into her body. Although her body is immature, her mind isn't, which is definitely a plus when she spends so much time alone. She fantasizes about romance, sitting for hours on her front stoop waiting for her mother to return home, watching the fireflies dance around until they, too, bow to exhaustion and stop flashing.
llie's life changes when she meets the guy across the street, Leo; tall, dark, handsome, and much older (well, at fourteen, twenty is much older.) Now Ellie can
on a live person, instead of fantasizing about Elvis, or other dead celebrities! Leo takes root in her imagination and becomes THE person who will save her from this unhappy existence. Ellie is very aware that '
my mother has ... not so much changed ... it's more like she's unraveled. Like he was the last bit of glue that was keeping her together, and now that he's gone, all the broken parts can take over ... And there are days, like today, when the world seems very far away.
llie lives on two entirely different planes, and has to keep her real identity safe from her mother: '
I feel that familiar sensation rush over me, like it is time to hide now ... I suddenly feel whoever I have been out there in this world doing a contortionist trick to fit back into what I am supposed to be there, in that world.
' Can Leo help Ellie in her quest for happiness? He shows her that no other person can save you – that is something that you have to do for yourself, and one terrible night that is exactly what Ellie sets out to do.
he Possibility of Fireflies
is a great book for teens, but we should hope that there are not too many Ellies out there.
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