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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro

In Signal Fires, Dani Shapiro offers characters and consequences that connect through time and in unexpected ways. The loss and redemption here are tragic and beautiful.

Signal Fires begins with three teenagers drinking in 1985, a car accident, a young doctor Ben Wilf, who comes upon the wreck and whose family is involved, and a haunting secret.

Time passes, and a young family moves onto Division Street. Their astronomy-obsessed young son Waldo befriends the retired Dr. Wilf, whose wife is losing her memories at the same time vivid memories of past events come rushing back to Ben with uncomfortable impact.

“If only time could be seen whole, then you could see the past remaining intact, instead of vanishing in the rearview mirror.”

Signal Fires is about brokenness and the consequences of secrets and mistakes. But it is also largely about overcoming thwarted emotional connection and forging new ways of coming together through and after tragedy.

I love Shapiro's writing and how she conveys the tragic beauty of human weakness and the relentless, if sometimes seemingly ill-advised, nature of hope. I adored the way the character of Waldo served as an unlikely conduit to wonder and how he bridges enormous barriers of all kinds.

I listened to Signal Fires as an audiobook.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

I mentioned Dani Shapiro's fascinating memoir Inheritance in the Greedy Reading List Six More Illuminating Memoirs to Lose Yourself In.

Shapiro is also the author of Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage; Devotion: A Memoir; and other books.

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