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Fire Color One

Cover of Fire Color One

Fire Color One

Nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Medal, this novel is a stunning tribute to fathers and daughters, and to the unique power of art to connect and change us.
Sixteen-year-old Iris itches constantly for the strike of a match. But when she's caught setting one too many fires, she's dragged away to London before she can get arrested. At least, that's the story her mother tells. Soon Iris finds herself in the English countryside, where her millionaire father—a man she's never met—lives. Though not for very much longer.
Iris's father is dying, and her self-interested mother is determined to claim his life's fortune, including his priceless art collection. Forced to live with him as part of an exploitive scheme, Iris quickly realizes her father is far different from the man she's been schooled to hate, and everything she thought she knew—about her father and herself—is suddenly unclear. But there may be hidden beauty in Iris's uncertain past and hopeful future, if only she can see beyond the flames.
Praise for Fire Color One:
A Carnegie Medal finalist
"It's not often—in fact, it has never happened to me even once—that I fall so hard for a young arsonist. The book moves swiftly, alternating between comedy and sadness, sometimes in the same paragraph. I loved Fire Color One." —Daniel Wallace, critically acclaimed and bestselling author of Big Fish
* "Valentine writes about family dysfunction, arson, and art with equal levels of beauty and lyricism, creating a vivid landscape of heartache and redemption....A story about an ugly situation that explodes into beauty through cunning and resilience." —Kirkus *STARRED*
* "From the first page to the last, Valentine has crafted a masterpiece." —BCCB *STARRED*
"[T]his is a poignant story about the power of art to connect and transform." —SLJ
"Beautifully written...a quiet, reflective novel that blooms into a thrilling mystery." —Booklist
"Fire Color One is a stunning journey of a teenage girl's struggle to find her place in a world that tries its hardest to keep her out....For fans of stories in which the good guys prevail, this book is perfect." —VOYA
"Wise, brilliantly plotted." —The Sunday Times
"Beautifully written...this latest creation is her most spectacular yet." —The Guardian Children's Books review
"A beautifully written, darkly funny and surprisingly poignant story of art, family and discovering the people we thought we knew." —Kerry Kletter, critically acclaimed author of The First Time She Drowned
Praise for Me, the Missing, and the Dead:
A Morris Award finalist
Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (under title Finding Violet Park)
* "Compulsively readable. A memorable new voice." —Publishers Weekly *STARRED*

* "Lucas' pitch-perfect voice and authentic family relationships...and the poignant, coming-of-age mystery will stay with the reader long after the book ends. Valentine's debut novel shines richly." —Booklist *STARRED*
* "Engaging from start to finish." —School Library Journal *STARRED*
"An impressive debut. Valentine offers a rich cast of characters and marvelous writing." —Buffalo News
"Charmingly told, this mystery manages to be both frothy and nourishing." —Kirkus
Nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Medal, this novel is a stunning tribute to fathers and daughters, and to the unique power of art to connect and change us.
Sixteen-year-old Iris itches constantly for the strike of a match. But when she's caught setting one too many fires, she's dragged away to London before she can get arrested. At least, that's the story her mother tells. Soon Iris finds herself in the English countryside, where her millionaire father—a man she's never met—lives. Though not for very much longer.
Iris's father is dying, and her self-interested mother is determined to claim his life's fortune, including his priceless art collection. Forced to live with him as part of an exploitive scheme, Iris quickly realizes her father is far different from the man she's been schooled to hate, and everything she thought she knew—about her father and herself—is suddenly unclear. But there may be hidden beauty in Iris's uncertain past and hopeful future, if only she can see beyond the flames.
Praise for Fire Color One:
A Carnegie Medal finalist
"It's not often—in fact, it has never happened to me even once—that I fall so hard for a young arsonist. The book moves swiftly, alternating between comedy and sadness, sometimes in the same paragraph. I loved Fire Color One." —Daniel Wallace, critically acclaimed and bestselling author of Big Fish
* "Valentine writes about family dysfunction, arson, and art with equal levels of beauty and lyricism, creating a vivid landscape of heartache and redemption....A story about an ugly situation that explodes into beauty through cunning and resilience." —Kirkus *STARRED*
* "From the first page to the last, Valentine has crafted a masterpiece." —BCCB *STARRED*
"[T]his is a poignant story about the power of art to connect and transform." —SLJ
"Beautifully written...a quiet, reflective novel that blooms into a thrilling mystery." —Booklist
"Fire Color One is a stunning journey of a teenage girl's struggle to find her place in a world that tries its hardest to keep her out....For fans of stories in which the good guys prevail, this book is perfect." —VOYA
"Wise, brilliantly plotted." —The Sunday Times
"Beautifully written...this latest creation is her most spectacular yet." —The Guardian Children's Books review
"A beautifully written, darkly funny and surprisingly poignant story of art, family and discovering the people we thought we knew." —Kerry Kletter, critically acclaimed author of The First Time She Drowned
Praise for Me, the Missing, and the Dead:
A Morris Award finalist
Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (under title Finding Violet Park)
* "Compulsively readable. A memorable new voice." —Publishers Weekly *STARRED*

* "Lucas' pitch-perfect voice and authentic family relationships...and the poignant, coming-of-age mystery will stay with the reader long after the book ends. Valentine's debut novel shines richly." —Booklist *STARRED*
* "Engaging from start to finish." —School Library Journal *STARRED*
"An impressive debut. Valentine offers a rich cast of characters and marvelous writing." —Buffalo News
"Charmingly told, this mystery manages to be both frothy and nourishing." —Kirkus
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  • From the book Prologue

    At my father's funeral, after everything, I lit a great big fire in his honor, built from stacked apple crates and broken furniture and pieces of a fallen-down tree. It towered over the scrubby piece of land I call the bonfire garden, and blazed, far enough from the house and too far gone to fight, against the fading afternoon. On the lawn below me, my family gulped for air in shock, like landed fish. They clawed at their own faces like Edvard Munch's Screamers, like meth-heads. Mourners poured from the house, designer-clad and howling, lit up like specters by the flames.

    My stepfather, Lowell Baxter, aging pinup boy, one-time TV star, and current no-hoper, stood swaying, dazed and hollow-eyed, a man woken up in the wrong place after a long sleep. Hannah, my mother, crumpled on to the wet grass like a just-born foal in all her credit-card finery, her gorgeous face collapsing in a slow puncture. She clutched at her own clothes, sobbing violently, but she didn't bother getting to her feet. I doubt she could remember how, she was so weighted down with debt.

    I could have filmed them, preserved their agonies for repeat viewings, but I didn't. I did what my best and only friend, Thurston, always told me. I savored the moment, because the moment was more than enough. I stood back and watched them suffer, feeding fistfuls of paper to the flames.

    I wondered if they'd ever speak to me again. I've always longed for Hannah and Lowell to stop talking.

    They didn't behave that way when it was my father in the furnace. Neither of them was sorry to see him go. Before the fire, there was a service for him at the crematorium. Ernest Toby Jones, one of a queue of waiting dead. Lowell worked the room in a tight suit, and Hannah wore big black sunglasses to hide her lack of tears, and shiny black high heels with red soles, same color as her lipstick. High-impact accessories are my mother's answer to big occasions, in place of actual feelings.

    I couldn't stand the thought of Ernest lying in that box with the lid closed, all dark and lonely and gone. None of it made sense to me. I couldn't keep up. But like water putting out a lit match, the rest of the world closed over the fact of his absence and ran on. His hearse continued through everyday traffic. Cars behind him on the road tested their patience throughout his slow and stately journey to the grave. Only one old man, walking with a stick, stopped as the coffin navigated a roundabout and met my eye, and bowed his head politely to the dead.

    Inside the chapel, a thin crowd spread itself out across the pews and tried to fill up the room. God knows who most of them were. They wore their dullest clothes and tuned their voices to the frequencies of sadness and loss. I sat on my own. I didn't want anything to do with them.

    I stared down at Technicolor carpets, cheap knockoffs from The Shining, from a shut-down Las Vegas casino. I wanted to meet the person responsible and find out if they were joking, or color-blind, or just a fan of Stanley Kubrick films. I wanted to tell Thurston about them because he would get it and because, on that day of all days, I could have done with him there. And then I realized the carpets were chosen perfectly, because they took my mind off the elephant in the room, the rubbed-raw stump of what was missing, the lack of my father, the lack of Ernest, who was never ever coming back.

    I didn't have him for long enough. That's the bare bones of it. I wasn't ready, once I'd found him, to let go.

    "Do you want a song played?" I'd asked him, the week before. "When the curtains close, when your coffin goes through. Do you want a...
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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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