'To The Flame' is a relatively short novel written by A.E. Ross about a boy named Emerson who's heartbrokenly crushing on the neighbor next door. Having spent hours together talking alone at a party, a night which found them kissing and connecting, they begin avoiding him immediately afterward. No chatting, not even a bit of eye contact, if at all possible.
Still struggling with his feelings of resentment and rejection, Emerson keeps finding himself escaping near death situations, all thanks to a stranger's anonymous warnings coming across of all things.. his radio. Much of Emerson's story is spent trying to figure out who keeps saving his life, while distracted by emotions stirred up by his neighbor.
Morrie, having come into a hereditary moth-person ability at a very unfortunate time, is struggling with their own demons. Memories of the moment they came to understand what wielding such an ability would bring them, paired with their own crush on the boy they found themselves drawn to and all the ways they've seen him die, make it almost impossible for them to interact with him. Yet they continue to try to keep the boy alive, those moments making it even more difficult to ignore the spark between them.
This story is so good. Emerson is tied up inside about the sudden distance that comes between him and the person who lives right on the other side of his wall. Every sound, every glimpse of them.. only fueling that fire and the need to push closer.. to try again and again to connect. Each failure seeming to steer him more steadily onto a reckless path.
"Your electric daisy just hit the floor."
As for Morrie.. Morrie is sort of a quiet force of nature. Visually, they're edgy in all the right ways, with their long silver hair.. shaved at the sides, stormy silver-gray eyes, black eyeliner, leather, combat boots.. you get the picture. They have this bold.. fierceness at times and then withdraw completely, as if they were never there and nothing ever happened. It's no wonder Emerson can't get them out of his mind.
Their connection is so warm and sweet, that you will spend the entire read wishing for them to get together. The idea of them ending up apart will fill you with angst and you'll constantly be searching for some clue as to which way it's going to go.
"..half his body wanted badly to escape out the door behind him and the other half refused to be moved. He wasn't quite sure which one was more traitorous."
Ross is a fantastic storyteller. It's no easy task to manage multiple points of view coherently, especially without losing the distinction between characters or alternately, overdoing the differences so that it's jarring. The narrative however, in 'To The Flame,' flows easily between Emerson and Morrie.
Also, I loved that the relationships in the book all seem really healthy. With the exception of the obvious issue between the two main characters, everyone else is really open and supportive with one another. People are looking out for their friends and loved ones, not just themselves.. and though support sometimes comes in ineffective ways, it's well intentioned and serves to move the story along.
I keep hearing others say that what pleases them most is the inclusivity in the book.. and that really is fantastic to see. I long for the day when we don't even have to call it out because it's become the rule, not the exception.