From the author of A Lily in the Light comes a poignant story of innocence lost and what it means to grow up too fast.
It’s 1965, and thirteen-year-old Gia, along with her older brother and cousins, are desperate to escape their sleepy, tree-lined neighborhood where nothing ever happens. The only thing Gia would miss is the surrounding marsh, where she feels at home among sea birds and salt water.
But when one of Gia’s cousins brings drugs into their neighborhood, it sets off a chain of events that quickly turn dangerous. Everyone will be caught in the ripples, and some may be swept away entirely. Gia is determined to keep herself and her family afloat while the world is turned upside down around her. Can she find a way to hold on to the life she was so eager to leave behind, or will she have to watch it all disappear beneath the marsh forever?
At turns heart-wrenching and hopeful, A Frenzy of Sparks explores a world where survival is the attempt to move forward while leaving pieces of your heart behind.
Kristin Fields grew up in Queens, which she likes to think of as a small town next to a big city. Kristin studied writing at Hofstra University, where she was awarded the Eugene Schneider Award for Short Fiction. After college, Kristin found herself working on a historic farm, as a high school English teacher, designing museum education programs, and is currently leading an initiative to bring gardens to New York City public schools.
Set in the 1960s, Gia is thirteen years old, living in a quiet neighborhood with her brother and cousins. One of those cousins is responsible for bringing drugs to the neighborhood, and from there, danger has arrived, and life is no longer quiet and boring.
Do you remember that childhood feeling of wishing you could grow up faster because adults seemed to have all the freedoms you so desperately wanted? Kristin Fields captures that yearning here in Gia. And like so often happens, that yearning sometimes brings the scenario of growing up too fast.
I absolutely loved Gia and the 1960s setting in Queens with marshes surrounding the neighborhood. I think there’s something each of us could relate to in this story, and I enjoyed Fields’ clear way of telling the story. Overall, A Frenzy of Sparks is a solid coming-of-age story, which just so happens to be one of my favorite types of stories to read.
I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own.
Queens in 1965 is a very different place to today but it’s apparent even then that the neighbourhood is changing. This is a coming of age story focusing on the extended family of thirteen year old Gia. Her father Eddie is a cop, mum Agnes is a typist and she has a fifteen year old brother Leo. Gia is drawn to the canal and surrounding marshes where she is often able to leave her troubles behind and feel a sense of renewal. When her cousin Ray brings drugs into the area it unleashed a catastrophic chain of events and for a Gia and her family nothing is the same again.
First of all I know from ‘Lily in the Light’ just how talented Kristin Fields is as an author. This novel is very well written, she has a gift for storytelling that draws you in to the narrative and a beautiful way with words. She captures the changing times and the events that cause concern such as the war in Vietnam, the rising use of drugs and the impact that causes are all depicted with clarity. This is a very powerful novel being poignant in places and shocking in others. I really like that Gia is the sensitive observer of the events around her as she starts out perhaps with a naive view of her world but she has a deep desire for it to be better. She wants a world free of chemicals, the canal and marshes preserved for wildlife but she finds herself witnessing the effects of newly available manufactured drugs such as LSD and does her best to fight it. The stress of addiction and the implosion that it causes on families is conveyed very movingly. I love Gia’s spirit and the desperate lengths she goes to in order to help those around her. Through her eyes we also see the gender roles and she doesn’t want her mothers traditional female role and she will break out of that mould like many others at this time. Not only is the world changing but the events of 1965 change Gia irrevocably. The end is very dramatic and sad although probably not unexpected.
Overall, this pivotal period is depicted really effectively and the changes explored through Gia’s eyes in a novel that is compulsive and compelling reading.
She had the same wiry build as Leo, the same blue eyes and slightly disheveled look, as if the wind had blown them around for a few minutes and suddenly stopped.
Window light turned dust suspended in the air to gold, making Gia almost pretty in the mirror, not movie-star pretty, but more like a mer-creature who’d surfaced to see what land was all about. She hadn’t quite grown into her nose or gotten past her fear of tweezers to fix her eyebrows, but her features were sharp and symmetrical.
“Is he sick?” Agnes scrunched her forehead. It was unusual for Leo to be home, grounded or not. Yes, Gia thought. He has an incurable case of the idiots.
The girl was chewing gum, cracking it loudly, blowing bubbles, and swallowing them back like a lizard rolling out its tongue. She was a hostess at the clam bar with Ray and liked to flirt with him even though she had more pimples than a toad, but she curled her hair and rolled a tube over her lips until they were mirror shiny. Alessandra. Gia wondered if Agnes would prefer a daughter like her instead.
“Just tell him your blood sugar’s low or you’re feeling faint. He’s too scared of women’s bodies to call you on it,” Lorraine said between bites of a fresh chocolate éclair…
Kristin Fields hit me soundly in the feels and wrote with an astounding poignancy that put hot rocks in my throat, pressure in my chest, and sand in my eyes. She scribbled with the articulateness of a gifted wordsmith while she insightfully and perceptively imbued her cast of characters with unusual quirks and sharp edges, and detailed them with crystal clarity. She fully captured their foibles as well as the miasma of complex family personalities, unmerited favoritism, and the issues of dealing with addiction in a family member along with the accompanying complications of enabling, blind denial, and general chaos.
I was staggered by the precision and depth in which Ms. Fields molded and sufficed Gia with relatable and accessible impatience, yearning for independence, and the heightened desire for personal choices from those forced upon her by family circumstances. Gia was a thirteen-year-old tomboy who was chaffing at the constant criticism and expectations of her mother to be feminine while actively forcing her towards domestic pursuits. Gia had no interest in her mother’s womanly pursuits or indoctrination as she was interested in the environment, wanted to be outside swimming and boating, and aspired to be a scientist.
Ms. Field’s prose ingeniously inserted me into the gray matter of a sensitive thirteen-year-old who despite her naive and skewed perceptions, still saw far more clearly, realistically, and objectively than her parents. I was deeply stirred by the experiences of Gia which conjured similar feelings long buried in my own psyche of a pervasive sense of powerlessness against the rigid constraints of the strict and unquestionable expectations of gender roles and the forced adherence of odd and nonsensical beliefs as well as the resentment of undeserved male arrogance and the mindlessness of automatic female deference. And from this, a kickass feminist was born.
I was a small child in the ’60s and came of age in the ’70s and do not look back on that period with fondness. Nor would I live through those turbulent eras again for a billion dollars. While Kristin Fields is far too young to have personally experienced those tumultuous decades, her narrative and characters’ observations, behaviors, frustrations, mindsets, and the limitations of societal roles were astoundingly authentic to the times. Color me impressed but now in need of a spa day and a vat of wine to clear all this long-repressed antipathy.
This is a beautifully written coming of age novel written about a time in America where everything changed - the 1960s. Not only does the main character grow up but she does it during a time period where the prevalence of drugs changed the American landscape and touched her life as well as members of her family.
The novel starts in 1965 when Gia is 13. She lives in a quiet NY suburb with her parents and her older brother Leo. She's read Silent Spring and spends a lot of time worrying about chemicals and the effects that they are having on the environment. She longs to grow up and leave her small town to get away from her family even though she lives on a street with aunts and uncles and cousins and they all spend a lot of time together. Then one day, one of her older cousins brings drugs into the neighborhood and into the family and life really begins to change. It affects all of them but her brother Leo becomes trapped in the drug world at the expense of his family and changes into a completely different person in front of their eyes. Gia tries to keep everything normal and repair the damage that the drugs have caused to her extended family. Can she find a way to keep life normal or will she have to watch her old life disappear?
This novel was beautifully written and emotional as we saw Gia grow up facing great change in her life and the lives of her extended family. I grew up in the same period and saw the changes when drugs became the norm in suburbia. The author presented this change through the eyes of Gia and I found myself identifying with her in some ways - she made me laugh and she definitely made me cry.
My words really can't express the feelings that this book gave me but I can tell you that this novel and Gia won't soon be forgotten by me.
It's the 1960s in Queens, New York, and everything is changing around 13 year-old Gia. Her friends are growing up and not always in a good way; the neighbourhood is being gentrified; and she is losing her childish naivety and innocence as a result.
I loved parts of this book. The coming-of-age story itself was ambitious, the setting was described vividly, and the characters were mostly well-formed. But something about the writing kept me disconnected; I felt like I was watching the story happen from outside of a bubble rather than feeling immersed in it.
The pacing is a little confusing. Things are slow, but then days or even weeks pass in the space of a paragraph in a way that I found a little unsettling.
The lack of deep connection I felt was most obvious when there is a major character death. While the feeling of overall numbness is something that is a theme in the book, my total lack of empathetic reaction felt disappointing.
I seem to be in a minority here, having a quick scan of reviews, so am aware that this is an entirely subjective thing. If the book looks like it would appeal to you then please give it a go. I wish I'd enjoyed it more.
You guys, this book is excellent! Gia gave me Kya from 'Where the Crawdads Sing' vibes w/ her strong-willed innocence, her love of marshes & having to grow up too quickly. 'A Frenzy of Sparks' is a coming of age story about being a young teenager in a time of prevalent drug use, being part of a tight-knit family in a small town, & the desire to not only escape this broken town & keep her family intact & safe, but also to fix it & the residents along the way.
This is not a fluffy read, & does have some dark, gritty moments, but it is so atmospheric, powerful, thoughtful & deeply personal. You will be completely engrossed in this story & it will stick w/ you long after you read it. I highly recommend 'A Frenzy of Stars' & I really hope to see a sequel for this someday. It is such a beautiful, well-written fiction novel, & as a small-town resident myself, I felt so drawn in to the story & it's compelling cast of characters.
'A Frenzy of Stars' is available now, so add it to your TBR, Christmas or wish lists & buy it from an independent bookstore. Please don't forget to support small businesses this holiday season & always!
A Frenzy of Sparks is a thoughtful exploration of family, heartache, and ultimately carrying on. Set in the sixties in Queens—a time and place of intense transformation—Kristin Fields deftly tells the heartrending story of what addiction does to a family and exposes the dark underbelly of suburbia. Powerful and poignant, I didn’t want to leave the pages of this masterfully crafted book.
Gia is a 13 year old growing up in a neighborhood made of aunt, uncles and cousins. In 1965 drugs were being introduced all around the nation and their neighborhood is no exception. Some harsh changes are coming. A coming of age story that was highly enjoyable. It's a quick flowing read that is hard to put down.
I first read Kristin Fields’ A Lily in the Light last year, and fell in love with the writing of a young ballerina and her traumatic ordeals and harrowing loss. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be an early reader of Fields’ sophomore novel.
The Frenzy of Sparks is a beautiful young adult coming-of-age novel set in Queens borough during the 1960’s. This novel is beautifully written through 13yo Gia’s perspective on the changing times, rapid transformation of the neighborhood, and having to grow up way too fast. The narrative and prose is beautifully written and Fields’ captures the beauty of each of the characters that even the neighborhood is a character in itself including the canals and the marshes. This powerful and poignant story addresses addiction, gender roles, societal issues, and complex family dynamics.
This deftly written novel is compelling and a beautifully compulsive read I loved.
i feel like i would have absolutely adored this if i was the right kind of reader for this kind of story.
i am quite intolerant when it comes to drug use, perhaps because ive never been around it, so i found myself lacking any sort of patience or understanding for leos character, who plays a rather significant role. the narration is third person, so i wonder why the author didnt utilise that to give the reader some insight into leos thoughts, his rationale behind his decisions, or any indication to show what he was feeling. because the entire narration follows gia, i feel like there is a missed opportunity for the reader to empathise with leo, which is what i personally needed.
that being said, i was really into the world building and how the writing paints a rather interesting picture of queens in the 1960s. i had no idea it used to be marshes, so i enjoyed seeing a different side of NYC and reading about gias connection to the environment around her.
i have no doubts that many readers will find this story to be touching but, for me, my heart just wasnt completely invested.
A Frenzy of Sparks author Kristin Fields is sharing her pub day celebrations with a very weird week, so I’m happy to send her all the congratulations and tell you about this beautiful story that I was able to escape into!
A plucky little girl named Gia is growing up in the 60’s in Queens. Things are hard for a girl in these times, and as much as her aunts and cousins want her to slather on the makeup and dresses, she just wants to hang out in the marshes, watch the birds and smell the salt water.
But things definitely turn a bit dangerous when one of her cousins introduces drugs into this tight knit family, and as much as Gia is determined to escape their sleepy town, she wishes more to save it from disastrous consequences.
I immediately got sucked into this one and felt like I was transported to 1965 Queens and it’s gritty landscape, and tight knit families. The heroin epidemic was raging in the area at that time – and this told a heartbreaking tale of how entire families can be ripped apart by drugs. It can change the trajectory of your whole life, just being related to an addict. I found myself relating to spirited 13 year old Gia in so many ways – and her love of nature and family is so endearing. She is a character you can’t help but root for, even though the struggles she wishes to fix are so beyond her.
A wonderful story of family crisis and heartache, beautifully written and will be a hard one to forget.
My gosh. What a story! A Frenzy of Sparks by Kristin Fields shook me, you guys. SHOOK ME. This is such an engrossing story about drug addiction, and how it can completely destroy an entire family. We witness how one person’s actions can impact so many others. I was captivated by thirteen-year-old Gia, her troubled brother, distraught parents, and extended family members. I wasn’t expecting to have so many personal connections to this novel. They took me by surprise, and also down memory lane. Without revealing too much of my own family’s dirty laundry and past struggles, I’ll just say that I know what it’s like to have a family member struggle with drug abuse, and go down that awful rabbit hole. It affects every single member of the family, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. I saw my younger self in Gia as she watched her older brother trudge down that horrible road. On a lighter note, Gia’s relationship with her cousin, Lorraine brought a smile to my face. I grew up with a lot of female cousins, so the strong bond between the two girls brought back some fond memories for me. I do not have a sister, so I relied on my female cousins for guidance and advice on clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and all of that other girl stuff! Speaking of Lorraine, her storyline was my favorite, and I’d love to learn more about her journey. Can we get a sequel, Kristin Fields? A Frenzy of Sparks is a little dark and heavy, but don’t let that deter you from reading it. It’s such a powerful and absorbing story that will stick with me for a very long time. Highly recommend!
I was transported to 1960s, Queens, NY in Kristen Fields' moving story, A Frenzy of Sparks. The characters, places, and images were painted so clearly and poetically - the similes and metaphors were perfectly placed and I found myself rereading them. I really felt for the young, courageous, and determined protagonist, Gia. It started out a little too slow for me but then pulled me in after about chapter three, trapping me in the web of relationships. Needless to say, I finished this 240-page novel in six days with tears in my eyes. Bravo Fields for your eloquence. I am most definitely telling my reader friends about this one! :)
Do you remember being a kid? Do you remember wishing you could just be a grown up so you can make your own decisions? This book sums up that feeling perfectly!
Gia feels like she's never going to be good enough for her family and she can't wait to grow up. But then she starts realizing that things aren't always what they seem. Her cousin brings drugs into her little neighborhood and suddenly she's not in such a hurry to grow up anymore.
Such a touching, coming of age novel. I loved reading about Queens in 1965. So completely different than it is now.
A Frenzy of Sparks is a beautiful, emotional coming of age story. Gia is 13 years old in 1965. She has recently read Silent Spring, and worries about chemicals, loves the marsh, the water, and taking the boat out, and longs for the freedom that her older brother and cousins have. Things change when her cousin Ray gets involved with selling drugs and mafia connections. Gia's brother falls down the path of addiction, and her family's life changes forever.
This is a very well written, beautiful story of growing up, of changes, of family, of a loved one's addiction. It is set far enough in the past to feel like a different time, yet remains relevant to today's world. The main character is very well written, and unique. I felt that the writing itself was very strong as well.
The book definitely packs an emotional punch, and I found myself tearing up a few times. The characters were well-developed enough that I cared what happened to them, and found that I got pulled into the story very quickly. Definitely worth picking up.
Thanks NetGalley and publishers for the ARC in exchange for an honest review
A Frenzy of Sparks is a poignant coming of age story. 13 year old Gia grows up quickly in the summer of 1965 as drugs invade her neighborhood and her family. This was a compelling, heartbreaking read. The time period was captured perfectly and I was instantly transported. The drug addiction that takes hold was portrayed fabulously and the ripple it makes down the characters executed seamlessly. The loss of Gia’s innocence is a slow unraveling as events unfold around her. This was unputdownable and completely captivating. 4⭐️ My thanks to @amazonpublishing for the advance reader in exchange for my honest review.
A FRENZY OF SPARKS by Kristin Fields is a compelling and heart-wrenching coming of age story set in Queens, New York in the 1960s. It is told from the point of view of Gia, a thirteen-year-old tomboy who doesn’t see why she can’t be treated just like her older brother Leo and her cousins in the neighborhood. Soon Gia is made to grow up way too fast, when her cousins start dealing drugs in the neighborhood and Leo becomes hopelessly addicted. No one is spared from the devastating effects drugs have on a family and neighborhood that were once so close. The author does an excellent job of depicting the times, the setting and the intense emotions of the characters. I was engaged in the story from beginning to end. I enjoyed this gripping and thought-provoking book and highly recommend it. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read an early copy.
Sometimes a book grabs you right away, and at other times your interest builds more slowly until you realize how consumed you have become by the story and you can't put it down. Kristin Fields' new novel, A Frenzy of Sparks, fell into the latter category for me.
In 1965 Gia is thirteen years old living in Howard Beach near a marsh with her older brother Leo and their parents. Her dad Eddie is an NYPD police officer, mom Agnes works outside the home as well. Much of Gia's family- aunts, uncles, cousins- live in the same neighborhood and they spend all their free time together.
Gia is interested in nature and science, and concerned about the chemicals ever present in the food and environment. Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring is her bible. She loves to go out on her dad's boat on the canal behind her house, and begs her dad to let her take the boat out by herself. Agnes would prefer now that Gia is getting older, that she should be more interested in traditional female pursuits, like Gia's cousin Lorraine.
It's a time of change in the country, and Gia's older cousin Ray has been experimenting with drugs, and selling them as well. He gets involved with some shady characters, and that will cause problems for more than just himself.
"People were sick of being told what to do", according to Gia. Black kids couldn't sit on a stoop without someone causing problems for them. Women were "trapped under their bell jars", like Lorraine who studied to be a nurse but wanted to become a doctor, and her mother Diane who worked in the navy yard during WWII, only to be sent home once the men returned from war.
The second half of the book deals with the fallout of having a drug addict living in your home. They lie, steal from family members, destroy trust, and break down the family unit. There are some very intense scenes revolving around the drug addict, and the frightening ways addiction spirals downward for all.
Several times reading this powerful novel I found myself closing my eyes and saying "oh, no" out loud. Fields puts the reader right inside this family, and your heart alternately pounds and breaks as they fight to save the life of their loved one and their family unit.
Fans of Delia Owens' blockbuster Where the Crawdads Sing should make A Frenzy of Sparks their next read. It has the similiar elements of a nature-loving girl facing danger that keeps the reader turning the pages. I highly recommend it.
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the free ARC in exchange for a complete and honest review.
A Frenzy of Sparks was my first book by Kristin Fields. While there were some aspects of the novel that I liked, there were also quite a few that I didn't. I will start with what I liked. This novel tells the tale of a family that is dealing with an issue that many families across the United States have dealt with for decades now: addiction. I found Field's approach to addiction to be very raw and accurate. She did a nice job at showing the reader just how far an addict will go to score their next high regardless of how much they are hurting their family and friends. Addiction is a disease that starts off slow, which was shown through the character development of Leo from beginning to end. It starts off as just being something you do in your cousin's basement and evolves slowly, or quickly, into this uncontrollable need that drives your very existence. The character of Leo was a strong representation of this. On the flip side, Gia was a strong representation of how the family of an addict tries to do everything in their power to rescue or cure the addict of their illness. I thought that Field's built a strong relationship between Leo and Gia and accurately showed the erosion throughout the story in a realistic fashion.
What I didn't like about the novel is that there were often times where I felt like I could not follow the writing. This was most prominent in the tent scene when Gia is spotted by the Mob after she saw them dumping a body in the canal. It felt very choppy and almost like I was missing important pieces to the story. I also didn't connect with the characters. This could be a "me" issue and not necessarily a fault of the writing or storyline. I just found it hard to empathize with the plight that the characters were facing. I also found it difficult to place the location. It was set in Queens, NY, but felt like it should be taking place further down south in the Carolinas, with exception to the mob storyline.
Overall, I felt that this novel was just ok. It didn't necessarily turn me off from reading other work by this offer, but I don't think I would go out of my way to read another novel.
From the author of A Lily in the Light comes a poignant story of innocence lost and what it means to grow up too fast. I loved A Lily in the Light, but this one to me was even better. It's a very emotional story. A story that hits so close to my heart. A bit too close.
This is the story of a family. A family in Queens, NY in the 1960s. Dealing with so much. Cousins who are so close and get in trouble and finding their way in life. A thirteen year old girl who has the no worries at all yet. This year will be a big test for all of these kids. As one does bring drugs into the midst. One isn't strong enough to handle it at all. One thinks he's smart enough to be a boss on his own. They are all just stupid children in a world where things are hard enough. Nothing good can come from this. Families turning on each other. Kids hurting each other. It's a horrible cycle that won't stop until someone is dead or someone ends up in prison. Or both.
This story is so realistic it's like living it, not reading it. It's like you are in the pages with these people. Feeling the things they feel. The happiness. The sadness. The many ups and downs. What each family is dealing with and how it separates them. Where they were once so close they become distance. Secrets are kept yet each knows all. Whispers are everywhere. The horror of what can happen. What will happen and what does happen in one family. How a mother and father deal with things. How they seem to make a huge difference in their children yet to me it was just a parent being a parent and being there for the child who had gone astray. The one that needed the help while the other did good things. It's not a matter of one being loved the most. It's about not wanting to lose either.
This book will rip your heart out. It will make you weep. It's a raw and emotional story of families. Loss, love, happiness and how drugs affect each.
This story hit me hard. Right in my heart. I lost a brother to drugs. He tried so many times to stop. He had a heart of gold. The kindest person you would ever meet. But his addiction was bigger than him. It was bigger than me. It was bigger than anyone. I miss him every day. Drugs took my brother.
Thank you #NetGalley, #KristinFields, #LakeUnion for this ARC. This is my own heartfelt review.
I’m so happy to feature 𝘼 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙯𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝙎𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙨 by Kristin Fields today. This book just came out on Tuesday, and is a raw and emotional story.
𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗿𝘆: From the author of 𝘈 𝘓𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 comes a poignant story of innocence lost and what it means to grow up too fast. It’s 1965, and thirteen-year-old Gia, along with her older brother and cousins, are desperate to escape their sleepy, tree-lined neighborhood where nothing ever happens. The only thing Gia would miss is the surrounding marsh, where she feels at home among sea birds and salt water. But when one of Gia’s cousins brings drugs into their neighborhood, it sets off a chain of events that quickly turn dangerous. Everyone will be caught in the ripples, and some may be swept away entirely. Gia is determined to keep herself and her family afloat while the world is turned upside down around her. Can she find a way to hold on to the life she was so eager to leave behind, or will she have to watch it all disappear beneath the marsh forever? At turns heart-wrenching and hopeful, 𝘼 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙯𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝙎𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙨 explores a world where survival is the attempt to move forward while leaving pieces of your heart behind.
Addiction is incredibly difficult, as anyone knows who has ever been touched by someone who has a drug problem. It’s a journey filled with distraction, disappointment, sadness and fear. But always, underneath, there is hope. And this was the case with Gia. I also loved and identified with her family, as I grew up in a boisterous and loving Italian family. This book is at time heavy, but always a meaningful and important read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to @suzyapprovedbooktours, @lakeunionauthors and @writingkristin for the gifted copy, which is out now!
Are you looking for a book with some real life topics with deep undertones? I have one right here. A Frenzy of Sparks by Kristin Fields is one of those books that will really hit home with a lot of people, and certainly will strike up a wonderful conversation with book clubs, groups and buddy reads.
Told in the perspective of Gia, an eighth grader in 1965 Queens, an age where you are stuck between being a kid and growing up. Gia and her cousins live in a sleepy little town where nothing exciting ever happens. When one of Gia’s cousins brings drugs into the neighborhood, she finds her world completely upended, and is resolved to help her family withstand the residual effects of addiction and crisis.
This book was a slow burn for me, but as the title suggests, there is a nonstop ‘frenzy of sparks’ throughout the novel that just keeps you turning the pages eager for more. It’s a powerful and heavy coming of age story that deals with the onslaught of the heroin epidemic in small town USA. The character of Gia is written brilliantly, as she exhibits perfectly the torn emotions of a 13 year old girl yearning to grow up yet still holding on to childhood. Ingeniously written from Gia’s perspective, this novel is a fascinating read and reestablishes the long term difficulties addiction and the war on drugs can create. Kristin Fields brings out all the heart and emotion felt during a family crisis and captures it well on paper. An intense and poignant read that will stay with you long after you’ve finished.
Summary: A Frenzy of Sparks is set in the 1960's in Queens, at a time and in a family where family is paramount, where women are mothers and wives, and men work blue collar jobs. They live in a sleepy, tree-lined neighborhood on a canal, where nothing ever happens. At least, it never used to.
13-year-old Gia, along with her older brother and cousins, are desperate for more. Unfortunately, the way Gia's cousin, Ray, decides to go about it -- by bringing drugs into the neighborhood -- sets off a chain of events that no one in the family will escape.
From the author of A Lily in the Light comes a poignant story of innocence lost and what it means to grow up too fast. Equal parts heart-wrenching and hopeful, A Frenzy of Sparks explores a world where survival is the attempt to move forward while leaving pieces of your heart behind.
My review: A Frenzy of Sparks tells the heartbreaking truth about how quickly addiction can destroy a family and a community. Fields has a beautiful ability to shape words such that the ordinary becomes extraordinary. She has a particular talent for transporting you into another time, another place, another person. I felt like I became Gia every time I opened the book, and as a result, I became heavily invested in what became of her. My heart broke as little pieces of Gia's innocence were so abruptly sliced away, and I cheered when she committed one of her trademark acts of extreme bravery.
I was not expecting this one to be so heavy, and it is heavy. It is 1965 and Gia is trying to be ‘older’ than she really is, at the same time her brother and cousins are trying to do the same thing, although they are all a couple years older than she is. This all coincides with the same year that LSD and other drugs make their way into her neighborhood, and things are not the same after that. In fact addiction takes hold of one of them, and the high of making money by selling the drugs takes hold of another. Consequences abound, and I could not put this down as this was gripping, heartbreaking, and hit very close to home. We know so much more about addiction now then was known in 1965, and I think Fields captured this so well within the story as each character tries to deal with this in their own way.
As noted there are definite TW for drug abuse and its related effects on the people closest to the individual, but this one is worth the read as I believe Fields covers the topic adequately. And even though she was a fictional character, I just connected with Gia, my heart went out to her, and I was enveloped in this story from the start.
Thank you to @tlcbooktours @writingkristin @lakeunionauthors @amazonpublishing for the #gifted book to review.
"No one quite knew what to do with the girl who hunted chemicals and preferred boats to boys."
It's 1965 in Queens, and thirteen-year-old Gia's main concerns are being able to take her boat out on the marsh by herself and staying away from all of the chemicals that are hidden in plain sight. But her cousin introduces the worst chemical of all to their group: drugs. After that, nothing in Gia's life will ever be the same again.
"This was too big for an eighth grader."
This was a sad and realistic depiction of addiction and how it can tear your whole world apart. Drug addiction does not only affect the user; it affects those who love the user, too, and it was hard to see the family dealing with all the aspects of it. While this wasn't as easy read, I appreciated the authenticity of it. I'm never a fan of "love conquers all" when it comes to drug addiction, because, let's be real, if that were the case, would we lose our loved ones? No. Gia's story was powerful, sad, and hopeful. I spent three days with this book, longer than it usually takes me to read, and it felt like I was watching everything unfold in real time. Their growth and their demise was so gradual and so well written. This is a book I won't soon forget, and I'm adding the author to my auto-read list.
This beautifully written story by Kristen Fields, is a coming of age novel, about 13yo Gia. She lives in a 1960’s neighborhood, with her aunts, uncles and cousins on the same block and a part of her daily life. They’re in and out of each other’s houses. And although Gia’s parents both work, her and her brother Leo, run the streets with their cousins, creating fun and mischief. Her older cousin Lorraine is her best friend and role model. The differences between the parenting of Leo and Gia, are typical of the era, the son who is destined to go farther than the parents and the daughter being prepared for a homemaker role, despite her passions for other things. The story really reflects the advantages that existed for boys but not for girls. This is a story of family, sibling rivalry, loyalty, and the devastation created when an older cousin brings drugs into the neighborhood. It touch’s every member of the family and changes the relationships within it. Kristen Field is a wonderful storyteller, with interesting characters. The book was a page turner from start to finish! My thanks to #LakeUnionPublishing #NetGalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own!
It is the 1960s and 13 year old Gia's main problem is not wanting to behave like a dutiful daughter and young lady. She wants to wear pants and explore the marsh. Sadly, these issues become overshadowed by her brother's drug addiction. I loved the large Italian family all living near each other and weaving throughout each other's lives, for good or bad. I loved how Gia viewed the world around her and tried to create a new space for herself while still meeting her parent's expectations. Ms. Fields did an amazing job of combining the simple family life that everyone was trying to preserve with gentrification, the infiltration of drugs, and Gia's independent spirit. I will say that I almost wish the book had stopped at the 90% point. I think I would have been happier not knowing some of the ending, for good or bad. That is the sign of a well written story, all the way to the end.
Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a copy of the book. This review is my own opinion.
A Frenzy of Sparks by Kristin Fields is a wonderfully written coming of age story set in 1965.
The story follows Gia who is 13 years old . Her cousin gets caught up in selling drugs with some dangerous connections. Gia's brother's path brings changes to her family as a whole.
At its core, this is a story of addiction, which can be a hard topic to read. The author does a magnificent job of telling the story set in the 60's. But really with addiction, when it comes to family dynamics and supporting someone with an addiction, not much has changed and the story is just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.
This was an emotional read. The characters are well crafted and written with such heart that though the topic was difficult I loved reading it.
I really enjoyed a Frenzy of Sparks by Kristin Fields. This was a wonderfully written, heartbreaking story of what happens to a family and a community when drugs are introduced into their lives. As a social worker, I know all too well the effects that drugs not only have on the person who is taking them, but also the aftermath that happens to loved ones. Gia, a 13 year old girl, is stuck in the middle of trying to discover who she is and who she will be in the future, while also trying to take care of and protect her family. My heart broke as I read about Gia and her family. About all the trials they go through. But, her life too was sparked with bits of light. Kristin Fields’ writing has a serious manner to it, while also making you want to turn page after page to read more of the story. This book comes out on November 3rd, and I hope everyone goes out and gets a copy to read!