By: Katie Cutugno
Published Year 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.
But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.
It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.
Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.
If this cover doesn’t scream fun, I don’t know what does! I read 99 days by Cutugno a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so when I saw that she had a new book coming out it caught my eye. Her cover and the summary would’ve grabbed me even if I didn’t know who she was. Love at first sight!
What I thought
It’s the 90’s and Orlando and boy/girl bands are all the rage! Dana and Olivia are best friends from a suburb of Atlanta. Olivia has dreams of pop stardom, while Dana is just hoping to not be stuck in their hometown forever. When Olivia brings Dana along on an audition to be a part of the newest produced girl band in Orlando, their worlds are both turned upside down when Dana is asked to audition as well.
My childhood was at the peak of the boy/girl band production. Orlando was HUGE for music production and companies were cranking them out one after the other. Backstreet Boys, N’SYNC, Spice Girls, 98 Degrees, the list goes on. It was such fun to have a story that took place right in the midst of that world.
Olivia is a bit spoiled as she comes from a well-to-do family and has never had to work for anything a day in her life. Dana is the complete opposite in that she has been working a job since she was 16 and is taking care of her alcoholic mom. The two have been best friends since kindergarten and are initially happy to be going on an adventure together. Unfortunately, nothing ever goes as planned. Dana has never wanted to be a popstar, so this is all new to her while Olivia and the other two girls in their band have only ever wanted this. The fact that Dana is so inexperienced is definitely a point of contention.
In addition to the inner girl group drama, there is boy drama as well! The newest upcoming boy band is staying at the same facility and you know what happens when you put teenage boys and girls in the same place. And of course, Olivia and Dana end up having their eye on the same guy. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that while it follows some of the typical cheesy storylines, it has such an aspect of realness to is that makes it stand out. For example, Dana and Olivia both like the same guy, but Olivia has “dibs” since she had a crush on him 4 years ago. When I mentioned this to my friend, she was like “What? No one can have dibs for that long! And doesn’t the guy have a say in the matter?” Well, a few pages later the guy in fact says something along those lines! It was great.
There is some fascinating relationship drama within this story and the world of popstars is interesting as well. Like I mentioned, even though some of the dramatic tropes are similar to what you find in most YA, it’s done in a different way. All those questions you have of “it wouldn’t happen this way in real life would it?” are addressed in this story. It just adds an element that makes this book so satisfying to read.