Book Review: Bright Burning Things

We connect, and the Catherine wheel is set alight, blazing.

~ Bright Burning Things, Lisa Harding


Sonya is a single mother on benefits. Once she was an actress, surrounded by glamorous people, parties and popularity. But her life hasn’t quite gone to plan. She’s now burning fishfingers, stealing food and upsetting her neighbours. She’s also an alcoholic. Struggling with addiction and motherhood, Sonya risks losing everything. It’s time to focus on what’s important.


I struggled to get into this book at first. The protagonist was not likeable and I didn’t relate to the way she was with her son Tommy and other people. It was clear that Sonya loved Tommy, but she was very controlling, despite believing herself to be a relaxed parent.

However I persevered and started to feel sorry for Sonya. I was interested in her experience with rehab and how she approached her ‘release’. Although I didn’t like the book, it does show how easy it is to spiral into addiction and how quickly our lives can be turned upside down. Having known a few friends experience alcoholism I did feel that the book dealt well with the subject quite well.

My main issue with this book was the slow pace and lack of plot. At times it felt like Sonya was being manipulated and gaslighted by the character David, but nothing was made clear. It was difficult to know why the author chose to bring certain characters in as they really didn’t add anything. Sonya was a strong character and a compelling storyteller, but this alone was not enough to carry the book.

When the book ended I felt like there was much more to say – it was so abrupt that I actually thought I was missing a chapter or two. Nothing had been resolved. Why she was trusted with her son is beyond me. I know addiction doesn’t ever go away, but it was almost as though she was back to square one. There was no climax or conclusion and I was sadly underwhelmed.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I was given a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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