Next up on the list from the bundle of ARCs I won from Fierce Reads is Shannon C.F. Rogers' debut novel, I’D RATHER BURN THAN BLOOM.

Marisol Martin and her mother do not get along. They are constantly in a fight and yelling at each other. But when Marisol’s mother dies suddenly, she’s left with a lot of anger and no one to fight with. And when she sleeps with her best friend’s boyfriend (and then subsequently punches her in the face), she’s also left with no friends. She’s determined to stay angry (she has a lot to be angry about after all), but when an unexpected friendship develops, she slowly starts opening up and seeing that maybe she doesn’t have to be so angry all the time.

If you’ve ever had a strained relationship with your mother, this book will really hit you where it hurts. I saw a lot of myself in Marisol, especially in the scenes in which she interacts with her mother. She is an incredibly relatable and flawed character and feels all the more real for it. Rogers was able to capture the essence of Marisol’s strained relationship with her mother as well as all the regular teenage angst and anxiety.

Oftentimes when grief is depicted, it is depicted as sadness and withdrawing. That is not the case here. Marisol’s grief manifests itself in anger - at anything and anyone around her. The nuance and intricacies that Rogers was able to weave into Marisol’s anger was masterful. Consistently angry characters that are constantly lashing out can get a bit irritating at times, but the waves of anger and the reasoning behind Marisol’s anger made her an incredibly sympathetic character that I couldn’t help but feel for.

The story felt like a punch in the gut right from the beginning and the hits just kept on coming. Though the entire book is told from Marisol’s POV, we are able to see (through Marisol’s limited view) how her father and brother are also grieving. The theme of grief is strong throughout, but so are the things that you can and should try to do in order to help yourself process it.

With relatable characters, emotional topics, and a wonderful understanding of how to weave it all together, Rogers leads us on a journey of healing - for Marisol and maybe even ourselves.

I’D RATHER BURN THAN BLOOM by Shannon C.F. Rogers is available now and you can pick up a copy for yourself here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."