What is one way that you can start all over? Try erase the pain of high school and try to reclaim a whole new life where people don't know you and your past? College... (You) Set Me On Fire by Mariko Tamaki is a story of trying to rediscover yourself while trying to escape your past.
Set in a college environment, Allison has just graduated high school and is looking forward to a new life at St. Joseph's College. Her high school career is one that she doesn't want to remember...her first love (Anne) and the horrid rumors that arise due to a night of firsts.
Her tendency to set herself on fire has left her with scars, both inside and out. Allison hopes that this new chapter in her life at St. Joseph's will erase the pain that Anne has left in her heart, and find happiness. Enter Shar. A strong, beautiful, independent girl who decides to take Allison under her wing (who I pictured as Angelina Jolie's character in Girl Interrupted - Lisa Rowe).
After a life of bliss, Shar's personality starts to change...for the not so good...leaving Allison's world spinning. Angry, bullying, aggressive...Shar's personality is in need of a major make over. Not listening to her other friends, Allison learns just how much of a friend Shar really is, and learns the hard way what kind of person Shar really is.
(You) Set Me On Fire by Mariko Tamaki is a story of self-discovery. I felt the character of Allison to be a pushover when it came to Shar. Could it be because of Shar's domineering personality? Absolutely. I was disappointed that Allison didn't stand up for herself more instead of constantly agreeing to do whatever Shar wanted. And I guess it's because of this toxic relationship that I couldn't tear myself away from the pages.
I knew from the get go that friendship was a terrible idea. That nothing good would come out of it...but I was hoping that perhaps something would turn things around, and something good would come out of this. And perhaps something good did.
Author, Mariko Tamaki, does a great job depicting life in college. She also does a great job getting the reader into the head of the main character, Allison. To be able to feel her emotions as she's experiencing the different events. Is Shar good? Or is she bad? Mariko Tamaki has a way of holding the reader's attention so that they continue to watch this potential train wreck of a friendship and see exactly who Shar is, and what the cards hold for Allison.
Not only do we get to read about Allison and Shar, but we are also introduced to other characters in the book that are also looking to start anew. For example, Jonathan. Aside from his really bad skin, and his odd personality, I found him endearing. I wanted to read more about him and his life at the college. Not only does bullying occur in high school (as we all know), but it seems to have crossed over to the college life as well. I found that to be a very interesting angle in the book. When I think of bullying, the picture of teens in junior/high school come to mind. I didn't even stop to think that that sort of thing could carry over to college. That was a true eye opener to me, and my heart was aching for him. Sometimes, your past just seems to never disappear, no matter how much you want to start over.
I wouldn't really say that (You) Set Me On Fire is a book for young readers. There is much drinking, much swearing, and much sexual innuendo's. But there is also much that a reader will walk away with once they've read the book.