House on Fire: A Novel (Paperback)
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“A masterfully written saga of family drama in the vein of Celeste Ng, Liane Moriarty, and Sally Hepworth” (Book Reporter) about a blended family in crisis after a drunk driving accident leaves one parent’s daughter dead—and the other’s son charged with manslaughter.
Divorce lawyer Leigh Huyett knows all too well that most second marriages are doomed to fail. Yet five years in, she and Pete Conley couldn’t be happier with their blended family.
But one rainy Friday night, on the way back from celebrating their anniversary, Peter and Leigh receive horrific news. Peter’s son Kip, a high school senior, has crashed his truck and been arrested for drunk driving. And Leigh’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Chrissy, was with him.
Twelve hours later, Chrissy is dead and Kip is charged with manslaughter.
Reeling with grief, Leigh nonetheless does her best to rally behind Peter and Kip. That is, until Kip changes his story and claims that he wasn’t driving after all—Chrissy was, and he swears there is a witness.
As they hurtle toward Kip’s trial date, husband and wife are torn between loyalty to their children and to each other, while the mystery of what really happened that night looms large.
About the Author
Bonnie Kistler is a former trial lawyer. She spent her career in private practice with major law firms and successfully tried cases in federal and state courts across the country, as well as teaching writing skills to other lawyers and lecturing frequently to professional organizations and industry groups. She and her husband now live in Florida and the mountains of western North Carolina. They have two daughters.
“Evocative writing and wholly realized characters complement a multifaceted tale that's both harrowing and profound.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Bonnie Kistler captures the madness of losing a child with profound understanding in House on Fire. My anxiety rose with each page as I swung with the characters from hope to rage, and back again as I followed this family through the shattering after effects of a drunk driving accident, but somehow Kistler manages to hold the reader’s exploding heart safe as this gut-wrenching story unfolds. I lived inside this novel with every word.”
— Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of The Widow of Wall Street
“A nuanced and compelling story of a family in crisis. Kistler handles a tragedy and the questions that swirl around it with a depth that will take your breath away and have you asking yourself—what would I do? Outstanding!”
— Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, bestselling authors of The Good Widow and Girls' Night Out
"Kistler has a clear mastery of the legal drama but also a deft touch with complicated family dynamics and the tightening noose of a trauma that refuses all efforts at a cut-and-dry solution."
"Relatable and thought-provoking...Readers who enjoyed Ian McEwan’s The Children Act (2014) and especially Emily Giffin’s All We Ever Wanted (2018) should be guided toward this absorbing read, which deftly examines the meaning and strength of family bonds and forgiveness. Kistler is a promising new voice in the legal-mystery world."
“Intensely emotional and instantly gripping, Bonnie Kistler’s HOUSE ON FIRE is a masterfully written saga of family drama in the vein of Celeste Ng, Liane Moriarty and Sally Hepworth…[Kistler] has a knack for putting life on the page, and the book is full of these tautly written and achingly relatable interactions…an instantly compelling and compulsively readable novel.”
— Book Reporter