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We Are the Ashes, We are the Fire

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  423 ratings  ·  140 reviews
From the author of the acclaimed Blood Water Paint, a new contemporary YA novel in prose and verse about a girl struggling with guilt and a desire for revenge after her sister’s rapist escapes with no prison time.

Em Morales’s older sister was raped by another student after a frat party. A jury eventually found the rapist guilty on all counts–a remarkable verdict that Em fe
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 9th 2021 by Dutton
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Who does not want to read about medieval women taking up swords, donning knights' armour, and killing their rapists on the battlefield? Especially when the title's so good. ...more
‘a woman broken, rebuilt, can conquer any sword.’

violence against women, victim shaming, and unaccountability are intertwined topics that i could stand on my soap box and preach about until my last breath. but GR is not the place for that.

just know that the topic of this book is very important to me. i have no doubt readers will see themselves in nora, knowing how it feels to be attacked, or in em, knowing someone who has been attacked and needs help.

while the necessity of the content and
Melanie (mells_view)
“People are so fucking awful. But they also make things so beautiful they break your heart, you know?”

Trigger Warning - rape, bullying, trauma discussion, gore

We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire is an incredibly well written story within a story. It’s half first person narrative, and half verse. This first person part of the story follows Em Morales before and after her older sister’s rape and the following trial. You see that her family is supportive and close, sort of living in a happy lyrical l
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: young-adult, lgbtq
I had the pleasure of illustrating this novel! So I got to read the book early, and my review will be quite biased :D It takes place mostly over one summer during which high schooler Em Morales loses her faith in the justice system after the frat boy who raped her older sister is found guilty by a jury, but not sentenced to any prison time. Em was a writer on her school paper, and used her small social media platform to raise awareness and advocate for her sister's case. Now she is ready to quit ...more
Angela Staudt
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you PenguinTeen for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

We Are The Ashes, We Are The Fire is truly a powerful book that makes you feel every emotion. You feel burning rage, sadness, heart ache, and you want justice for what happened.

The main character Em's sister got raped and the rapist got off with no jail time. The judge didn't want this one thing to ruin the boys life. Em is burning with anger because she can't believe that the boy who raped her sister gets to walk free. She want
Half-Guatemalan Em is incensed at how cis boys can so easily get away with behaving terribly toward girls, and she's been writing about it for the school paper as a means of working through her older sister's rape. But when justice isn't served to the rapist, Em is incensed beyond words. Turning to the story of Marguerite de Bressieux, who used to kill rapists, she finds solace and a means of making sense of how these stories go deep into human history.

McCullough's writing is immersive, and Em's
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, read-in-2021
I'm so sad that I end up not liking this book. The first half was very good, but the last half went downhill so quickly. Around page 200, the main character suddenly ignores everyone in her life and focuses on the story that she's writing. I have an issue with this because it comes out of nowhere. Also, I'm mad that Em minimizes Jess' problem and refuses to help them (page 210). Regarding the story that Em writes throughout the book, I didn't really care about that since I was invested in Em's l ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-release
Brash. Brazen. Bossy. Hussy.

I just finished We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire by Joy McCullough and it is fiercely beautiful and heartbreaking. Em is the biggest champion and loudest voice when it comes to defending her sister, Nor, a victim of rape by the campus big shot. Just when it seems as if they’ve made progress with a guilty verdict, the judge hands down a hand slap of a sentence to the monster that assaulted Nor. Another kick in the face, not only to Nor but to all the women who’ve bee
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to start with saying that a lot of the material in this book is potentially triggering subject matter particularly of rape and the aftermath. That being said I loved this book and felt it did an excellent job of highlighting those topics, particularly the aftermath on those around the survivor. The narrator of this story is Em and it centers on the aftermath of her older sister being raped while at college. I loved that perspective because trauma impacts not only the survivor but their fa ...more
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the Bookish First. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire is a book that will ignite your rage. It's so fiercely feminist in the ways it discusses a culture that ignores and excuses. The way women and girls are taught to be ashamed, to be blamed for their assault, to become ostracized for speaking up. The rampant sexism and culture that does not believe victims and excuses perpetrators. It's a world
Lisa | Lady_Logomancer
This book is a discomfiting book within a book about family, feminism, guilt and revenge. It’s relatable to anyone who has ever had their power taken away by someone who felt entitled to do so, and the aftermath of picking up the pieces along with the anger and feelings of wanting to get even.

It’s a book with inside a book, as it’s partially about the MC and her struggle to accept that her sisters rapist was convicted but does no jail time and it’s a long form poem she writes about a 15th centu
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
1.5 Stars
This book is not bad, I just didn't enjoy it. The story is written in prose (present day as Em and her family is dealing with the aftermath of her older sister sexual assault trial) and verse (a story Em is writing about a medieval noblewoman who avenged rape victims).

I'm going to mark it as a DNF because after about 50 pages I started skipping all the sections in verse and then after about 100 pages, I started skimming the present-day prose sections. I think this is partially my fault
Rachel Solomon
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I won't say too much before there's an official summary...but WOW. What an incredible and inventive follow-up to Blood Water Paint. ...more
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary-ya
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Happy Publication day to We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire!

Thank you PenguinTeen for an eARC via Netgalley. This is a voluntary and honest review, and all opinions are my own.

Rep: Spanish language, latine MC (Guatemalan dad), non-binary rep

If you’ve read the premise of the book, then you already know it deals with some heavy themes, so here are a few of the trigger/content warnings: rape, victim blaming, gore, misgendering, HP reference. I usually like to recommen
Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Em’s sister was raped outside a frat party. When a jury finds the rapist guilty, Em is relieved: she is the one that advocated for her sister to go to the hospital, to press charges, to find the strength to testify. And, throughout the trial, Em wrote and published profiles of other rape survivors, helping their voices be heard. But, the judge opts for a sentence of no prison time. Em and her family are thrown into a tailspin and Em struggles to find a way to move forward
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, contemporary
I am so obsessed. So amazed. So wowed. And more importantly, so galvanized.

This book was everything in a feministic/modern contemporary that I wanted and I absolutely loved the authors' representation of gender neutrality, the plight against rape, and women suffering in the world at the hands of men who think they can do what they like.

I'm not going to preach in a book review...although I'd preach in real life...but this was something that I think everyone should read just because it makes you
Sharon Roat
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blown. Away.

Just finished reading an advance copy of this amazing novel in prose and verse, contemporary and historical woven together so brilliantly. The pen is indeed as mighty as the sword, and Joy McCullough wields it fearlessly.
Kelly Hager
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. I was pretty sure I would when I read the synopsis, but I had no idea just how much I needed to read it.

I'm going to be honest now, I've been angry for a long time. I could say since 2016, but probably before that. Everything about this world feels insultingly wrong sometimes and I hate it. And if this is how you also feel, this is the book for you.

I don't want to spoil anything, but this book is perfection. Highly recommended.
Sam (she_who_reads_)
Maybe closer to 3.5? I just was really not a fan of the book within the book unfortunately
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't really know how to review this ...more
This is a story about Em, who is filled with rage after her older sister's rapist walks with no prison time. And after the public trial, her sister is facing backlash and harrassment at her university and on social media. Em, searching for ways to express her anger and tell the story she feels is being silenced, becomes inspired by and begins writing a story about Marguerite de Bressieux, a historical and somewhat legendary figure of a noble woman in France who, along with the other women in her ...more
Kera (featherboundbooks)
3.75 stars for this book.

This was my first read of Joy McCullough’s work and I am in love with the writing, both style and prose. We have two parallel stories being told in We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire, which I found added such a great aspect to the underlying message of the book.

Em Morales is dealing with the aftermath of her sister’s rape trial and the fact that even though her rapist is found guilty, he gets no jail time and virtually no repercussions for his heinous actions. Now, not on
Sakina (aforestofbooks)
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, books-i-own
I cannot express my thoughts coherently.

After reading Blood Water Paint, I knew whatever Joy McCullough wrote next would be a masterpiece, and this did not disappoint. I was expecting a book completely in verse, but I actually really loved how we got chapters of prose in between Marguerite's story. It fit so well with the message of this book, and I have to say, this book is angry. You can feel it in every word, every sentence. I need to go back and honestly highlight the sentences that stuck ou
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing unforgettable tale of the ripple effect of one person's actions across many people's lives. One of the main characters, Em, brought me into her world from the beginning and I could feel myself relating to some of her thoughts and how some things should happen. There is also a tale written by Em within the main story and I felt it was a great way of showing how the character was reflecting on what happened in her life through use of fiction and what she thinks or feels about what shoul ...more
Jenn of The Bookish Society
I'm torn about how to review this important story. I liked both halves and wished maybe that they had been separate books, if that makes any sense? The title drew me in, and the premise of a historical heroine on the same quest as a modern-day teenager.
Em's older sister, Nor, was raped at a college party before the book begins. The judge lets the rapist off with time served - even though he was convicted. Em's social media rant goes viral, and the whole family struggles.
The secondary story is th
Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story benefits from being told in prose as well as the method of story telling it uses.

Spoiler-free Review:

I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley; however, my opinions are my own.
Jessica Lawson
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking. Heartmaking. Full of sisterly love and systemic evil and personal guilt and flames of vengeance and SWORDS. All kinds of swords that protect, that seek justice, and that heal. Read this book for Nor. For Marianne. For Jess. For Marguerite. For Zahra. For Helene. Read it for yourself. Just READ THIS BOOK.
Charisma D
As much as I really wanted to love this one (and believe me, I really did), their was just something missing from the story for me. (So technically this is a 3.75)

First things first, this book is half written in regular chapters and half written in prose. It’s essentially a story within a story. Both the story of the MC, Em Morales and her story of poems written in prose of Marguerite de Bressieux is an important one. We follow Em through her trials and tribulations of her current life throughou
Katherine Hardisty-Cranstone
Thank you @penguinteen for the e-arc!! This book released THIS WEEK so there's no need to wait for your copy!

I wish that swords were something granted to us at a certain milestone, like tampons and puberty, and we were taught to use them, responsibly and with honor, that chivalry was an actual thing, not in the damsels in distress sense, but in the sense that we look out for one another and sometimes you might need my sword and sometimes I might need your sword, but we’re never standing alone
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star-reads
I was honored by Penguin Teen to read this story before it was released and may I say, it is one of those stories that many may relate to. A story about a family who goes through the pain of hearing their daughter's rapist is excused by the justice system once again because as always society sides with the man's side. The story follows the journey through the eyes of Em Morales, the sister of the survivor who's keen on telling her sister's story as well as stories of many other women. Even after ...more
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Bookish First Rea...: We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire by Joy McCullough 3 6 Jan 12, 2021 01:39PM  

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