Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine.
This Guardian Prize winner 2015 for Young Adults is outstanding. It is a novel about art. Literally.
Iris is 14 years old and she has never consciously met her father who is now dieing of cancer. His name is Ernest and he has made a fortune dealing in art of all the great painters. Now on his death bed Ernest invites Iris, her mother Hannah and her partner Howell, to his estate for the last days.
There is a lot of time to make up and a lot of surprises.
The outstanding feature of the novel is the characterisations. Iris is very bright but she doesn’t look in the mirror and see somebody she doesn’t like. She is tomboyish and has a best friend in 17 year old Thurston. He has the imagination and character to be great he just doesn’t seem to want to be. He adores Iris.
The mother Hannah is a case. She has a fashion models body, dresses in tight clothes and high stilettos with a cigarette in one hand and clinking vodka and ice in the other. She is constantly dodging creditors with her maxed out credit cards. He partner Howell is a beauty. Film star looks with one eye in the mirror as he watches himself go by. He is on the fringes of Hollywood waiting for his big break but with Hannah behind him it will never come.
Iris is caught in the middle of it all and it is no surprise that she is a bit disturbed. She loves fires. Meeting her father and their conversations before he dies are sensational.
The language of the novel contains bitter sweet observations that will have you smiling with admiration. Howell for instance has toilet bowl white teeth.
The ending will have you on your feet applauding. The best book I have read this year.