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Reviewed by Bil Howard for Readers' Favorite
“Cigarette fire works the same way people work. The smoke always escapes your lungs, but it leaves behind a lot of shit when it does.” Aurora’s Ashes by Hia Chakraborty is a portrait of this very quote by Aurora Garland who had captured not only the attention and admiration of Alexander “Ace” Burnell, but left an impression upon him that was burned into his being beyond anything that he had ever imagined. This story is a coming of age drama that explores several issues concerning teens - peer pressure, adolescent romance, innocence, acceptance, and dealing with loss and depression. As Ace is relocated into a new school after his father shot himself, he discovers Aurora Garland and a new set of friends who lead him through his junior year in his new high school. What he discovers, however, from his numerous encounters with Aurora is that no one really knows her. He discovers that she has a highly destructive personality and a part of that personality begins to rub off on him as well. Caught up in reinventing himself from the loner that he was before, he isn’t certain how to respond to Aurora’s cry for help and winds up with a great deal of regret because of it.
Aurora’s Ashes is a deep and dramatic exploration of the things that stir deep inside all of us. Hia Chakraborty has masterfully brought to light the challenges that teens face as they are attempting to navigate their way through to adulthood, but multiplied by the loss of a parent and the deep pain that is often shoved down inside as a result. The depth of thought is, to me, reminiscent of The Kite Runner. Dramatic, profound, and brilliantly written; Aurora’s Ashes is on a par with some of the most profound novels of the first thirteen years of this century.