Val's Pick: "Signal Fires" by Dani Shapiro
I adored Dani Shaprio’s 2019 memoir Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love so when I found out she wrote a novel in 2022, I was intrigued. Could she be as successful at writing fiction as she was at writing memoir? I was further persuaded to read Shapiro’s novel Signal Fires after reading Chris Stuckenschneider’s glowing review.
Inheritance focused on Shapiro’s real family whereas Signal Fires follows the story of two fictional and inter-connected families. The book opens with a devastating event that occurs in 1985 and then proceeds to show the long lasting effects of that event (both direct and indirect). Shapiro uses a non-linear timeline and multiple narrators to tell this story which, in the hands of some writers, could result in confusion. Instead readers get a story that is simultaneously heart-breaking and hopeful.
Ultimately, for me, Signal Fires is a story of forgiveness and the timelessness of love.