Thursday, April 23, 2015

Book Review: Fire Season by Hollye Dexter

Members of the Vise Library were selected to participate in a blog tour for Fire Season.  We received a copy of Hollye Dexter's book for an honest review.

About the book:

Awakened by her husband’s yells of panic, Hollye Dexter found herself in bed with her toddler son asleep next to her, and their home set ablaze. Hollye and her family had no choice but to leap out of a second-story window on to the concrete below and watch as everything they owned burned to the ground. Homeless and jobless, Hollye began to unravel emotionally, struggling to hold on to her identity and her marriage. Determined to save her family from destruction, Hollye decided to pull herself together and focus on starting anew. Hollye Dexter soon realizes that when everything you identify with is gone; you are free to discover who you really are. 

Poignant and breathtaking, Holly Dexter tells a beautifully uplifting story that pulls readers out of the ashes and into the sun. Fire Season is an unforgettable true-life tale that provides hope for people who have lost everything and have no choice but to start again.

Fire Season Book Trailer:

So as I think back on this book, I am incredibly grateful for my life and everything in it.  I remember thinking while I was reading this book "How could so much bad happen to one family in such a short amount of time?" Not only did the fire destroy their home, but it destroyed their livelihoods since both of them worked from their home.  They lost their feeling of safety and a space for them.  The Dexter family goes through so many struggles in such a short amount of time, that I think I would have handled it a lot worse than they did.  Hollye and her husband struggle with their relationship because they each grieve in a different way and have a hard time understanding that about each other.  They are kicked out of two houses in two years because the owners of the houses do not pay the mortgage on the house.  They pay their rent even though sometimes they cannot pay their water or light bill.  They unfortunately have to declare bankruptcy.  They just keep getting kicked down and lose a lot of their pride and self-esteem.
I think one of the things that I was most shocked by was how some of their "friends" treated them through this whole ordeal.  Hollye's husband had a saying that people will tell/show you who they are.  And boy do some people do that!  Right after the fire destroyed their lives they heard things like "You must have some really bad kharma."  Who says that?  Hollye had a business partner make this tragedy about her and stole money from their business that Hollye had borrowed under her own name.  There were friends that helped donate things and money, but wanted to put stipulations on what they could do with that.  (For instance, Hollye and Troy decide to rent a house months after their fire.  They invite their two closest friends over to show them and be happy for them.  Instead, these friends called it a dumb idea and that they shouldn't be renting this house.)  People also seemed to want to have a timetable and end point for the Dexter's grief.  After a few months people expected them to be over it.  They lost their pets, their sources of income and ultimately themselves.  That may be one of the scariest things of all, not losing your things, but you as a person.  

Throughout this memoir Hollye kept wondering why this happened to them.  I wondered the same thing too.  A lot of times we try to figure out the way or what lesson is there in this?  And unfortunately we never find those answers.  It is very easy for me to say as an outsider that we will figure out why such horrific things happen.  However, when we are going through these things it is not the answer we want.  Hollye becomes depressed (and who wouldn't?) and has a suicide attempt.  People kept telling them how lucky they were to be alive, which is true, but the being alive part and living with the aftereffects at times seem so much worse.  Events like this can break you or build you up.  Eventually, the Dexter's become stronger people and stronger together.  They even end up buying their dream home that has an inside sprinkler system and is located a mile from the local fire station! :)

Hollye Dexter recently gave an interview about finding the silver lining in a tragedy.  Watch that interview she did with HuffPost Live.

Buy the book:

About the Author: Hollye Dexter is the author of two memoirs and co-editor of Dancing at the Shame Prom (Seal Press), praised by best-selling author Gloria Feldt (former CEO of Planned Parenthood) as “a brilliant book that just might change your life.” Her essays and articles about women’s issues, activism, and politics have been widely published in anthologies, as well as in Maria Shriver’s Architects of ChangeHuffington PostThe Feminist Wire, and more. She teaches writing workshops internationally and for at-risk youth in LA, where she lives with her husband and a houseful of kids and pets. Learn more about Dexter at Connect with Hollye on Twitter at

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