[TESTIMONIALS] When we were fire on fire

Reviewed by Amanda Castro on Goodreads

Can I give over 5 stars to a book?

First, character building is impeccable. Fra is such a relatable character: sweet and selfless, without lacking personality. Someone who passes as a workaholic when he’s in fact is using work to numb his emptiness. Francesco is broken, and the ones closest to him are well aware of it, although not the full extent of it. At first, it seems the breakup is the source of Fra’s troubles, but as the story develops, we find out he had many issues way before he and Eric met. Their romance was nothing more than a catalyst.

Eric, on the other hand, appears as the confident, sexy mixed-race guy who has it all together, but reveals himself to be as lonely (or maybe even more) than Fra, as we find out about his past. Both these main characters are incredibly layered and depicted in such an honest and vulnerable way that I dare you not to fall in love with them.

The romance, much like her previous novel, is dreamy. As the title suggests, every scene where they both interact seems on fire, and the tension is obvious right from the start. Although I loved the shipper, the mental health theme here is where the novel really shines. Act 3 dropped like a bomb in my lap, and I found myself sobbing about how truthful and relatable was Fra’s depression depicted. Also, the role family and friends play in such a context is shown sensitively. I adored the supporting cast of this novel, for both opening the MC’s clouded eyes and showing their love and support in key moments. There’s a whole discussion there about what makes a real family, which I won’t address or else I’ll stay here forever.

Eric and Fra have that soulmate fairytale kind of love, but the lesson of the novel is that love itself is not enough. The real work is to find a light between all the darkness of their past trauma to let their love shine. It takes effort, vulnerability and a whole lot of understanding to share your life with someone, especially if they have mental health issues. And for such an honest depiction of relationships, I think this novel is brilliant.

CW: anxiety, depression, mentioned suicide, eating disorder, parental abuse, sex.



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