Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World

Rate this book
Powerful, engrossing, and beautifully written spiritual memoir. Fireflies recounts the writer’s quest to find light to ease the darkness and suffering she encounters in the world as her beloved older brother is enveloped by mental illness. Her journey for answers takes her from small-town British Columbia to Zimbabwe and exposes her to spiritual and religious settings from 12-step programs to fundamentalism, from Anglicanism to African evangelicalism. She presents her experiences without judgment, and her story reflects where religion helps and where it fails to help find meaning in the midst of life’s most painful challenges. Download first three chapters for free using Goodreads e-books feature.

271 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Heather Gordon-Young

2 books60 followers
Heather Gordon-Young is a Canadian writer and speaker living on the west coast of British Columbia in the coastal community of Powell River. She completed her MFA in Creative Non-Fiction at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World is her first book. Heather is the Executive Director of a not-for-profit social services organization that serves children, youth and families. She is married to her best friend and is a happy mother to their two university-aged children and an aging dog. She is a lover of stories, yoga, fishing, and the forest.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
26 (70%)
4 stars
6 (16%)
3 stars
3 (8%)
2 stars
1 (2%)
1 star
1 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
July 31, 2015
I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a story they cannot put down. I was engrossed in the writer's journey from the moment I picked it up. Heart-wrenching but beautiful. This is a book you cannot forget. It has stayed with me long after reading it. A must read!!
Profile Image for Erin Bradley.
1 review
April 21, 2015
Spiritually heart-provoking, this personal memoir captures the author's journey as she seeks answers with how to cope with her brother's harrowing personal struggles. Initially set in Northern British Columbia, she recounts her childhood and youth and the experiences that would shape her quest to find the appropriate supports (she so craves) in order to help her brother and grasp what's going on for him. She takes her reader all around the world, and the writing is so descriptive and beautiful, I often felt I was along for the ride. I wasn't expecting the book to resonate for me how it did. It gently urged me to consider my position with her struggles; struggles that evoked a strong and lingering reaction- whether about faith, loss and coping, grief, or the power of love. Fireflies flows along, and it is not a difficult read, but the reader should be prepared to not want to put it down!
Profile Image for Sheri McInnis.
Author 4 books15 followers
June 13, 2015
Full disclosure here, Heather Gordon-Young – the author of Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World – is a distant cousin of mine. We've never even met, but I'm a writer too and another family member put us in touch because her first book was coming out.

The reason I bring it up is because the suicide of Gordon-Young's brother – which makes up part, though not all, of this book – rocked through our family over twenty years ago.

Maybe 'rock' isn't the right word. Because people didn't really want to talk about it. Or even think about it. We all knew how talented Jimmy was. Copies of his work circulated through the family and there was no question: he was a great wildlife artist. Nobody wanted to think that such a gifted young man in his twenties would shoot himself.

"Afterwards" – a word Gordon-Young uses with such grace in the book – we all worried about the family. His parents, freshly separated. His wife. His sister. I especially thought about her because I had a brother myself and I couldn't imagine having to lose him that way.

As the years past and the story of Jimmy's death took its place in the deepest threads of the family fabric, I continued to hear about Heather. I already knew she was very religious, had in fact studied Theology. Then, not long ago, I heard she'd become a writer. When I was politely asked to take a look at the galley of Fireflies, I don't know what I was expecting. But certainly not the tempest of emotions the book sent through me.

It is clear Gordon-Young has been on a path to write this book all her life. It's not just about her brother's suicide. It's not just about her lifelong quest to find help for him, which turns the story into an adventure that takes her from lecture hall arguments with famous academics to the distant plains of Africa where witch doctors, seers and even God make appearances. It's not just a story about trying to make sense or find peace after a family tragedy. It is a brave, eloquent epic journey that is part love story, part mystery, part bone-chilling horror. Because there is real horror here.

But there is also such love and wisdom. I simply couldn't put it down. Gordon-Young's talent and honesty are alive in every sentence. Beautifully written, it feels like something more than a book. Among the many references to science, nature and religion, the author mentions how important bells are to human beings. How a bell can be struck deep within each of us like "vibrations that awaken us from the inside." This book feels like a bell. It will resonate within you long after the last page is turned, "throwing open the curtains and letting in the morning light."
July 24, 2015
This book had me right from the beginning! After reading the first paragraph I began to wonder "what was the dark and why did the dark want the authors brother?" The author takes you on a journey from childhood to adulthood with all the joys, pains, losses, gains, learnings and questionings that go along with it. A spiritual journey that focuses on the light and the darkness that is a part of this world. After reading the book I could see the intricate plan of God so delicately and sometimes not so delicately thread throughout the life of the author. I loved how the author asked the hard questions in life, questions I have asked myself many times. However instead of answering the questions the author lets you ponder them in your own heart.

The author explains her spiritual growth in a unique and inspirational journey which truly made me reflect on the blessings and challenges that are a part of my own spiritual journey. Many times throughout this book my spirit was lifted to contemplation and prayer. At times I found myself rejoicing with the author as I was a witness to the greatness of God in her life and at other times I was shedding tears of sorrow as I read about the difficulties and sufferings we as humans so often share in this life. I felt connected to the author on a spiritual level but also on a purely human level with our shared joys, sorrows and questions about right and wrong.

I could not put this book down once I started and it was a fairly quick read which was nice for my busy life. At 271 pages, "Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World" is an easy-to-read novel that packs a powerful punch! I would recommend this book to anyone and in fact have already recommended it to my entire family (and I have a large family!).
1 review
May 17, 2015
This is a beautifully written story about a woman's personal journey to help and support her brother, an artist who is trying to find his place in the world free from emotional pain. The author brings forth many questions about the role of religion, culture, and spirituality in our lives as well as the meaning of family and acceptance of ourselves and others. The narrative flows smoothly and pulls you into the author's journey leaving you to decide on your own answers to the questions she raises. This engaging memoir is about the power of love and is ultimately hopeful, encouraging, and inspiring. I highly recommend this book!
May 4, 2015
A poignant and compelling story dealing with the heartbreak of mental illness and the sometimes inadequate support of the church in helping with these situations. This search for answers to the darkness of mental health is superbly written and describes a journey which few could imagine. I couldn't put the book down...a great read.
Profile Image for Cynthia Barnes.
4 reviews1 follower
August 1, 2015
I loved this book. A friend commented that Heather Gordon is a poet,and she is right. There are no wasted words. Gordon includes so many captivating details. I have talked about the book with my friends as it is a compelling and courageous story.

I am proud to be Heather's friend
June 6, 2015
Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World by Heather Gordon-Young was a beautifully written, provocative read. Heather shares her struggle to make sense of her brother's battle with mental illness, a disease so often misunderstood. When she turned to the church for answers she was often left with more questions, which not only resonated with me and my own struggles with my faith, but also helped me to understand that it is a sign of strength, rather than weakness, to question. I was grateful that Heather shared her journey to find peace in a dark place -- her story touches the reader deeply and shows us that we can often find light in a dark world. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Pgchuis.
1,938 reviews18 followers
June 27, 2016
I found this memoir very moving (the author is frank about her inability to "save' her brother) and also challenging in the way it forces you to consider what our response as Christians should be to those who are struggling with addictions, mental health issues and (query) demon-possession. The part describing her work in Africa, and how she came back with an answer to a completely different question from the one she set out to find, was very interesting. I think the book mostly made me realize how important it is to keep seeking God's will and his plan, even when circumstances are confusing and answers are long in coming.
Profile Image for James Gordon.
6 reviews
April 30, 2015
Fireflies is an intense, raw, heart felt family story that once started cannot be put down. The story is a taught description of how the most tender and creative in the world are also the most exposed to the harshness of the world. The book is accessibly literary with vivid images that give the story life and make the read captivating. It is a book that brings ideas and thoughts to life but does not provide pat answers. I highly recommend reading Fireflies.

1 review
May 29, 2015
A beautifully written, image ridden tribute to a troubled yet well loved brother. It is a heart wrenching and yet uplifting window into the pain and recovery of a family's journey through mental illness. Heather has a way of inviting us into her life as a child and young woman- an ordinary life filled with extraordinary insight. "Fireflies" is full of childhood vignettes that remind us of how we develop into the adults we are. This is a truly engaging story.
1 review
July 23, 2015
Oh my gosh, what a wonderful read! I first picked up this book yesterday when I stepped off the ski fields and was unable to put it down. And today as soon as I got out of parliament I found myself completely engrossed by it and had to read it all in one sitting :) congratulations on penning such a fabulous and inspiring read! First place to you! (which also happens to be where I finished at the 1968 Winter Olympics)
15 reviews
June 18, 2016
A compelling story bravely written in a beautiful voice. Heather Gordon-Young shines a powerful light into a dark piece of her personal history with raw and intimate honesty. Tenaciously seeking answers, understanding and help for her deeply wounded older brother, she shares her journey with her readers with tenderness, hope and strength. This is a valuable book for those brave enough to read it.
1 review
July 23, 2015
WOW this book is so good. Cant wait to order it off amazon. I feels this book has gained a lot of publicity on the south coast & am eagerly awaiting my shipment. Gosh so excited to read this page turner!!!!!! Well done heather. 5 cheers for you! Hip hip hooray!!!!!!
1 review
June 9, 2015
I'm very upset that my previous review was removed because I would like people to know that this book is WORFUL AND NOT ACTUALLY ABOUT FIRELFIES.
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.