A Brighter Flame [Book Review] #WomensFiction #LakeUnionPublishing

 A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi

A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi is a compelling story of family secrets, reconciliation, and second chances.

A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi (cover) Image: white text over a graphic picture of a burning match against a bright blue background

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Sisters, Complicated Family Drama, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia

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My Summary of A Brighter Flame

Thanks #NetGalley #LakeUnionPublishing for a complimentary e ARC of #ABrighterFlame upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Vale Lightner is devastated the night the Pittsburgh bar she owns (with her father) goes up in flames. Out of desperation and anger at her father (whose carelessness may have caused the fire), she decides to return to her hometown of Philadelphia and stay with her grandmother until she can come up with a plan to salvage her life. Returning home has its own trauma as Vale doesn’t have a great relationship with her mom and stepdad or her half-sister, Blythe. How will she put her life back together?

My Thoughts:

Compelling and Complicated Family Drama

I enjoy a complicated family drama with complex and complicated characters as long as it’s not too dark, overwhelming, or hopeless. In this heartwarming and page-turning story, Christine Nolfi creates a realistic and memorable cast of characters with relatable problems. I found it unputdownable as I invested in the characters, their relationships, and their dilemmas. A hopeful conclusion focuses on reconciliation and healing.


It seems that so much of life depends on support we receive or don’t. In A Brighter Flame, I love the support that the grandmother gives to each granddaughter, providing unconditional love, understanding, a sense of “home,” and a safe place to land. Vale provides invaluable support to a neighbor who is a single mom and her daughter. Emmett is extraordinarily and tenderly supportive of  Vale, and Blythe also has the loyal support and understanding of her popular, major league baseball husband.


Although there’s a romance brewing between Vale and Emmett, (closed door) romance is not the main focus of this story. I love a side of romance in a story with thoughtful and substantial themes as it provides some lightness.


Thoughtful and poignant themes include recovering from loss, sibling rivalry, sisters and mother/daughter relationships, second chances, reconciliation, support, misunderstandings, misconceptions, blended family, secrets, infertility, forgiveness, resentment, family loyalty, and grandparent/granddaughter relationships.

Recommending A Brighter Flame

I enthusiastically recommend A Brighter Flame for fans of page-turning and poignant women’s fiction, for readers who love stories about sisters and complicated family relationships, and for book clubs.

Content Consideration: Infertility

Related: Another complicated family drama that involves fire is Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

My Rating:  4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 on Goodreads)

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A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi (cover) Image: white text over a graphic picture of a burning match against a bright blue background

More Information Here

Meet the Author of A Brighter Flame, Christine Nolfi

Author of A Brighter Flame, Christine Nolfi

Christine Nolfi is the award-winning and bestselling author of fifteen novels, including The Passing Storm, cited by Publishers Weekly as “Tautly plotted, expertly characterized, and genuinely riveting” and gold medal winner in general fiction, International Book Awards. Look for Christine’s 2022 release, A Brighter Flame.

A native of Ohio, Christine now resides in South Carolina with her husband and their crazy wheaten terrier, Lucy. For more information, visit http://www.christinenolfi.com


Is this family drama on your TBR or have you read it?

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