My Favorite Book #Reviews | Part II | My First #YA Historical Fiction

FIREFLIES, was the first novel I wrote.

I wrote it in the spring of 2012, not having any idea what I was doing. I just knew I had to get this story out of my head and then, I had to share it with the world. By fall of that year, I managed to find a home with a small press named Ravenswood. Apparently, she saw something in the story that spoke to her and urged her to take me on. By April of 2013, FIREFLIES was published. Awards aside, if this book doesn’t steal your heart, something or someone else already has.

Here are my thoughts on how this book evolved and why it is still so dear to my heart today:

“Fireflies” most likely started when I was born. When I make that statement, what I’m really saying is growing up as the youngest of eleven children in a blended family of five half-sisters, two half-brothers and a sister and two brothers by your shared parents, was as much interesting and fun as it could be tragic and confusing. However, this story isn’t about my family, although my experiences of being raised in such a chaotic yet loving atmosphere certainly fed my creative process and gave me tons of material to work with.

I’ve always been fascinated with history as well as the paranormal. I’ve been especially curious about the area where my mother grew up, as a second generation American of completely Welsh heritage. My father on the other hand is a mystery, except for the fact that he was Scotch-Irish. Other than that, I know very little of his lineage. My Mother, however, was able to pass down how my Welsh ancestors, primarily my great grandparents, came over from Cardiff Wales in the late 1800’s by way of Philadelphia and settled in a little town called Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. Writing “Fireflies” gave me even more opportunity to research the area and study the immigration process.

My next objective was girl power. I wanted a character that embodied those formidable women who paved the road with opportunities for women of today. She had to be a brave, insightful and smart as well as possess grace, humility and the faith to go for what she wanted and be determined not to settle for anything less than her dreams. In essence, a girl who wanted it all; a career, family and love and the ability to prove to everyone that it was possible. Teagan wasn’t really ahead of her time; she was a trailblazer for women of the future.

It was also important to me to prove that not all paranormal events are negative and that the objective of these spirits isn’t always to terrify and threaten. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy a malevolent and frightening haunting as much as the next reader and they certainly keep the pages turning. I just wanted to share a story about what could happen if we looked at these visitations from another perspective, through the eyes of a complete innocent. My hope is that we may all learn something from Ennis about seeing the unknown as we see a flower or a tree; it’s just there and how we perceive it, regardless of how others do, is our truth.

May 11, 2017

Format: Kindle Edition
Verified Purchase
I purchased this book last summer where it sat in my Kindle unread for months until I caught up with my to be read pile. After reading the first chapter, I was hooked on the Whelan family.

The story begins in Pennsylvania in the late 1880’s. The Whelan’s are Irish immigrants raising their family of seven children in what appears to be a typical setting for that era. The older children have come of age and are ready to leave the family nest.

Everything within this family seems normal until you meet six year old, Ennis, who the author, P. S. Bartlett, must have created and written with divine guidance. You immediately sense the child has an otherworldly quality about him. It is when the boy finds an injured bird and heals it that you begin to understand that something marvelous is waiting for you inside this book.

Ennis’ oldest sister, Teagan, is the next to receive his healing energy when she cuts herself with a knife while washing dishes. With her life teetering on edge, Ennis heals her too. From then on, I realized the boy was a crystal star child, highly sensitive and psychic, with a primary life purpose.

As the story unfolds, Ennis and Teagan find themselves caught up in the reality of his gifts. They explain to their parents how Ennis has been employing his healing skills. The parents consult with the local pastor and come to the understanding that these miracles are truly heaven sent.

The parents have their own stories unfolding through flashbacks of their previous lives in Ireland and their journey to their new home in America. Be prepared to go on an emotional rollercoaster as their narratives unfold leading the reader to an explosive and startling ending.

I will hold the image of fireflies dancing around a small boy in my heart for a long time. If you believe in the power of love this book will restore your belief in miracles. I loved this story and am sorry I waited so long to read it. I have read many of P. S. Bartlett’s books, and this one really captured my heart. This is one of those books whose message will stay with you!

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