Author Beth Raymer, who grew up in Wellington, recently released her new book, Fireworks Every Night, published by Random House. The book is a coming-of-age novel set in Palm Beach County.
A young woman trapped in a deeply dysfunctional family in the seedy wilds of 1990s South Florida has to make a choice — save her family or save herself — in this larger-than-life debut novel from the acclaimed author of the memoir Lay the Favorite.
In Raymer’s tumultuous novel Fireworks Every Night, released on June 27, readers meet 12-year-old CC (named after her father’s beloved Canadian Club whiskey), an unforgettable protagonist who narrates her life story with dark comedy and compassion for her family, even as her parents “opt out of parenthood” as well as society. Largely inspired by Raymer’s unconventional childhood, the book feels like the love child of Carl Hiaasen and Lauren Groff.
“Florida, we got it all. Motorsports, ribs, beer. You can drive on the sand, right on up to the ocean. Fireworks every night.” That’s how CC’s father describes the appeal of their new home. The man is a born grifter, a used-car salesman who burns down his dealership in southern Ohio for enough insurance money to set up a life for himself, his wife and his two young daughters in a place he picks largely at random, because the living seems easy.
CC’s mother is 35 going on 17 — a housewife who just wants to drive a Mustang and hang out at the mall. CC’s sister goes from loving Debbie Gibson and jelly shoes to having a full-on drug addiction and listening only to heavy metal, after enduring forms of abuse within her family. In the midst of this dysfunction, CC is trying to stay afloat and make it out — to achieve some semblance of a stable life despite the many structural and cultural challenges she faces.
With her first novel, Raymer explores the intergenerational effects of growing up with poverty, abuse, drug addiction and mental illness, but with a darkly comedic tone and an eye for the absurd. Like her protagonist, Raymer knows what it’s like to grow up with a sibling who’s an addict, to lose a family home to foreclosure and to experience a parent become homeless in the wake of a nervous breakdown.
Deeply funny and surprisingly poignant, Fireworks Every Night memorably illuminates the hard bargains, family loyalties and grit of a woman determined to create a better life for herself than the one she was born into.