As with most books, I heard this one mentioned on NPR and thought I would give it a shot. It was written and published the same year that I was born - 1979 - making it 32 years old but for some reason, I had never heard of this book or the author before. I was, quite frankly, almost hesitant to read it because it is about teenage love. Those books are never good, I thought. They are self aggrandizing and boring - who wants to relive that angst again and again and again? I could just read my journals from that time period after all right? But this book surprised me.
The book opens in Chicago. David, a 17 year old and the protagonist, is dating Jade, a then 15 year old. Jade's family are well known in town - they live a hippie-esque and bohemian lifestyle where just about anything goes. They allow David and Jade to have sex in their house, they smoke pot and would be the type to provide condoms to their children and their children's sexual partners if they had been more readily available during that time. At some point though, they take a stand and bar Jade from seeing David. David is absolutely heartbroken about it - it's absolutely more than he can bear. So one night, he elects to set fire to Jade's home by putting flammable materials on the doorstep and then stepping backwards to watch the house burn. But things don't go according to plan...as we soon find out and by that time, the book has its claws in you so deeply that you can't stop reading.
I was absolutely captivated by this book and mesmerized. I was enthralled about the deepness of David's obsession with Jade and her family. He goes out of his way to have contact with her, often to his own detriment (which I was curious about - I wanted to know more about why HE was so seemingly self destructive). The book moves slowly, but I didn't mind it at all. The pace allowed me to completely savor each and every thought and sensation that David, the main narrator (we are viewing everything through his eyes after all) himself has and that was absolutely wonderful. At some point, I may opt to re-read this book so that I can truly savor it. Definitely pick this one up.