ON FIRE ISLAND by Jane L. Rosen 

From the publisher:

A book editor spends one last summer on Fire Island in this sparkling and surprising new novel from the author of A Shoe Story.

As a book editor, Julia Morse lived and breathed stories. Whether with her pen to a manuscript or curled up with a book while at her beloved Fire Island cottage, her imagination alight with a good tale, she could anticipate practically any ending. The ending she’d never imagined was her own.

To be fair, no one expects to die at thirty-seven. So when the unthinkable happens to Julia, rather than following the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, she chooses to spend one last summer near those she loves most.  

As she follows her adoring, novelist husband Ben to their—unexpectedly full—home on Fire Island, she discovers the ripple affect her life has had on the trajectory of so many: her baseball loving, young-at-heart neighbor who believes it’s best not to go it alone, two bright-eyed teenagers eager to become adults, and her best friend who must shake off heartbreak for a new chance at love.

With poignant comedy and insight, On Fire Island is an ode to the stories all around us and to the brightest types of loves…for the people closest to you and the places that shape you.

“Rosen has a winning sense of humor, bringing levity not to awkward and painful moments, and she packs the narrative with vivid details of beach life and city life. This is a treat.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A sometimes tough read that will appeal to readers wondering if those who die can stick around for just a little longer.” – Kirkus Reviews


Jane Rosen writes such interesting stories! I loved Nine Women One Dress and A Shoe Story, and this book lived up to my high expectations. Our main character is Julia Morse, a young woman who has died. That is not a spoiler! The dead Julia narrates the book from the get go. A young woman dying is always traumatic, and we meet her husband, Ben, a famous author, who is grieving. Her family insists on sitting shiva for the full week, and Ben can’t bear it. He takes the dog and walks out without a word to anyone, and moves into their beach home on Fire Island. This summer resort setting is as much of a character as everyone else.

Julia goes along for the ride, metaphorically speaking that is. She is an observer here, and shares her insight into her husband and friends. Her best friend, Renee, just got divorced after their teenage son catches his father in bed with another woman. Other characters include Renee’s son, Matty, and Shep, a neighbor who used to own the house Ben & Julia bought. Shep is also a widower, but much older than Ben, so when Ben finds him sleeping in his bed, he figures the old guy just got confused. But it turns out he doesn’t want to stay in his new, much larger house, so they become roommates.

The summer on Fire Island is healing for everyone, eventually, but there is a lot of unhappiness as well. Fortunately for us, Rosen manages to infuse humor among even the saddest of moments, and I was invested enough in these characters to make this a one night read. I also was intrigued by the notion of Julia being able to hang around her family and friends until she felt ready to go to that great beyond…which turns out to be, well, no spoilers here. I loved this book, despite its slightly morbid premise, and highly recommend it.

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ON FIRE ISLAND by Jane L. Rosen. Berkley (May 23, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0593638071. 320p.





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