When I was in high school, I was hungry: I wanted a substantial meal. I wanted something true and lasting, and I looked for it everywhere. But all the books I read told me that this was it—the world around me, with its petty conflicts and scalding pain, was all there was. These books told me I’d better get used to it.
But when I was seventeen, the light found me. This isn’t it, he said. I am. He lit my way out of that dark room and seated me at a feast. I began to read the Bible and, within a few years, discovered Narnia and Middle-earth—expansive lands that rolled greenly in every direction, promising some new discovery just beyond each hill.
But as my daughters grow older, I find that so many of the books marketed to them continue to chant that old refrain: This is it. There is nothing outside this. Settle in and do the best you can with what you have. And so I look hard for books like Rosefire—books that stand as outposts of light amidst the young adult stories that celebrate darkness and would urge my daughters to submit to it.
In Rosefire, Carolyn Clare Givens tells a story that begins with one small action: Karan, daughter of one of the leading families of Asael, welcomes a girl with no memory of her past into her father’s home against his wishes. But this act establishes both Karan’s place and the place of the girl, Anya, in a story far greater than either of them—one that will shape and redeem their fragmented land.
Rosefire is a powerful picture of what it might look like to live out a prophecy—to know that one’s days are foreordained, but to see that the fulfillment of those days is unlike anything those living inside the story can imagine. Givens admits the presence of darkness in the world, but she shows light flickering at its edges and reminds readers that, whatever the other young adult novels say, the darkness has borders. Beyond it spreads an endless country, radiant and worth reaching, whatever the cost.