A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My mother-in-law suggested this book to me after a conversation about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (which I really thought I had reviewed, but I can't find it), so somehow, I had it in my head that this was going to be a non-fiction. Don't make the same mistake: it's a historical fiction.
As such, it's an okay story. Many of the characters and situations are contrived. Of course, the protagonist's son develops pneumonia but can't get penicillin despite the fact that his grandfather owns a pharmaceutical company. So, of course he's given some other drug, that has a bad side effect. But it almost doesn't matter because his family is rich.
Of course there's an unsolved crime that tears the lovers apart. And of course they have an awkward and unsatisfying reconciliation at the end because there's a war going on and who knows if they'll ever see each other again.
I get that sometimes situations in novels have to be contrived to move the story forward, but I guess I never liked any of the characters enough to be completely drawn in. This story read like a first novel (although I think it's Belfer's second): a little too much head-jumping in character perspective, characters that were too similar in personality, characters who were too obvious, and the overuse of "banter" as a conversational mechanism.
It's not bad, it's just not that good.
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