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FIREWORKS by Katie Cotugno warps readers into the late 1990s of Orlando as we follow Dana Cartwright and her experience of fame and stardom. While tagging along with her best friend, Olivia, to an audition in Florida, Dana is unexpectedly discovered and thrust into the world of boy and girl pop bands. The thing is, it was always supposed to be Olivia in the spotlight; never Dana. She was always meant to be only backup and moral support and it came as a shock when that was no longer the case. In the end, Olivia and Dana’s friendship is truly put to the test among the various trials and tribulations that the industry of songwriting brings, along with the discovery of first love.

"If you’re a fan of any of the works by Morgan Matson or Sarah Dessen, I have no doubt that you will find a strong love for the story that is FIREWORKS."

I cannot begin to explain how much I adored this novel. Not only was the writing style simplistic yet gripping, but it truly felt like it was from the mind of an 18-year-old girl, making the story entirely real. However, the setting had to be my favorite aspect of the story. It was such a change to indulge in the late 1990s and be introduced to beloved trends and music of that time. With each great reference made, I found the reading experience exceedingly more intriguing!

I also felt so much for these characters. Dana was loyal and protective and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed was right, making her such a lovable person. I also found myself wishing I was her on multiple occasions throughout the entirety of the novel. Her love interest, Alex, was also crazy swoony and, in my opinion, was probably the reason for the making of the term, “boyfriend goals.”

On the other hand, I was sad to see that the friendship in this book lacked severely. Olivia was always dependent on Dana to be there for her and when it came time for Olivia to be the one to help, she flopped. She was disloyal, petty and, quite frankly, my least favorite character in the book. Although I do think the actions made in this story were necessary for Dana to move on with her life and start making herself a priority.

I’d be lying if I said that this novel was anything but an emotional rollercoaster. At times I found myself giddy, laughing, shocked and even straight up bawling my eyes out. I appreciated the harsh truths that this novel brought to light including betrayal and even the fact that things change and people change as well. It was by far the most interesting yet realistic portrayal of the music industry that I have seen to this day and it definitely made me not want to ever step foot in a recording studio at any point in my life.

If you’re a fan of any of the works by Morgan Matson or Sarah Dessen, I have no doubt that you will find a strong love for the story that is FIREWORKS. Katie Cotugno brought out the many aspects of growing up and going through the successes and hardships of friendship and love found in the pop culture, making it a read I’m sure that any millennial --- or teenager in general --- would appreciate.

Reviewed by Taylor F., Teen Board Member. on June 14, 2017

by Katie Cotugno