I never knew how bad I wanted a book about a wannabe, pop girl group set in 1990s until I read this fun, peppy, fast read. My 90s kid heart grew two sizes reading this book. It was everything I wanted and more.
Ever since attending a Britney Spears concert at the ripe age of 5, I’ve been a fan of pop music and girl groups. My mom braved the crowds of Britney fans during the …Baby One More Time Tour to make a kindergarten me feel like the coolest girl in the world. I still remember the awe of seeing Britney in person. I also never missed all those TV shows like Making the Band and Popstars. I even still have my elementary school CD collection full of music from B*Witched, Nobody’s Angel, Mandy Moore, and S Club 7. This book was practically written for me.
Fireworks is a fun, behind the scenes look at the making of popstars in Orlando. The setting is a perfect backdrop for letting the teen characters go wild. It’s like the YA book version of that Backstreet Boys documentary, Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, but better because it’s about 2 BFFs. I was rooting for Olivia and Dana from the very beginning. Their friendship evolves and has highs and lows throughout the book. While I loved the elements of pop and the 90s, the main focus of the book is the friendship between Dana and Olivia. Dana struggles with the pressure she feels to compete against her best friend for something that she’s not even sure she wants. Girls constantly feel pressure to be competing with other girls and this book highlights the toxicity of that culture.
Dana also has to confront the realities of her financial situation compared to the other girls in her pop group. She has grown up poor, though she’s always gotten by. Olivia’s family has also been there when she needed them. She’s managed to make it through high school but her post graduation plans are waitressing and wishing she could get out of her small town. The pop group opens opportunities that she never had access to before. Dana has to learn to see herself in a new light while hoping Olivia can see the new dream too.
There’s also a cute guy from a newly formed boy band that Dana and Olivia fight over. The love triangle is a secondary plot and readers will quickly assign their loyalty and ships to Dana and Alex. I loved their cute meetups and the ways they supported each other. Cotugno also wrote sex-positive scenes with the teen characters making responsible decisions for themselves. Dana may have had issues with her best friend, but she had an incredibly supportive boyfriend who was there for her during the tough times of wannabe popstardom.
I just had fun reading this book. The characters, setting, and plot just worked perfectly for me. I also made this playlist while reading because I kept thinking of songs I used to play constantly. Listen to the playlist and relive the 90s while reading!