On Burning Mirrors falls into the category of books that are difficult to describe and 'peg' to a specific reader audience. On the one hand, it embraces elements of a romance as it discusses a forty-year-old woman's illicit affair with another woman and the fallout that occurs as tragedy strikes when a husband recovering from addiction finds out that his solid relationships harbor some surprising secrets.
As Will begins an investigation that will bring him face-to-face with his wife's lover and the kind of relationship she cultivated behind his back, he begins to confront some eye-opening truths not just about her and her lover; but about his own life and its assumptions.
One big plus to On Burning Mirrors lies in its ability to craft believable, multifaceted characters who don't neatly fall into preconceived categories either in appearance or through their lifestyles and actions. Erin, Jules, and Will have all faced their demons and seemingly carved out successful lives from the obstacles they've confronted; but in reality there's an undercurrent of secrecy that runs through their lives which brings them together in unexpected ways.
That's another positive attribute that sets On Burning Mirrors apart from other contemporary fiction reads: its ability to sprinkle surprising revelations throughout its story line, continually challenging readers to confront their own preconceptions, misconceptions, ideals, and ethical standards.
As a series of challenges continually threaten Erin and Will by exposing long-held secrets, they are forced to confront their own choices and consequences in life, and this is the third big plus in a story that excels in complex situations and family connections.
Readers who choose On Burning Mirrors for its insights into same-sex relationships and marital struggles will find it a powerful emotionally-driven exploration of love, friendship, closely-held memories and unexpected futures. The novel is particularly recommended reading not just for fans of gay fiction; but for those outside the genre who can anticipate an emotional story of the processes of coming together, moving apart, and forging new connections.
On Burning Mirrors by Jamie Klinger-Krebs is a character-driven, psychologically rich novel that explores lesbian themes and infidelity. But there is more to the story than that. Jules Kanter is at the peak of her career as an arts and entertainment editor for a reputable newspaper. Married to a handsome man, Will, and mother to a lovely daughter, everything looks perfect in her life. Then she meets Erin, a talented performer with a troubled past. Erin has risen to stardom pretty fast and has fallen as fast as she’s risen, thanks to drugs and other personal vices. Having lost a huge opportunity for a major break in her career, Erin goes back to work in a bar in her hometown. Initially, Jules only seems interested in Erin’s story, but trying hard to get Erin to tell her story allows the two women to discover a connection that leads to an illicit affair. It’s only after Jules dies in an accident that the truth begins to surface. Will, her husband, is out to discover the truth, but is he ready to face the secret life of his wife? And has Jules been completely honest with Erin?
Jamie Klinger-Krebs writes with the simplicity of language that only a very skilled writer can use and the narrative flows with grace, featuring vivid descriptions that capture details of the story without sacrificing the main elements of plot. There are twists in the story that readers won’t see coming. Here is a tale of love and loyalty and sexuality, a tale of secrets that is crafted to keep the reader mesmerized. The themes are well developed, and the character arc comes out clearly through the narrative. On Burning Mirrors could be read as a tale of betrayal, but it is also one woman’s journey to face the truth about her personality. The story is skillfully plotted, the scenes are focused, and the conflict strong enough for the reader to want to see how it plays out in the end. You’ll love the characters and the exhilarating ride.
Jules Kanter and Erin Quinn are lovers. But although the two women enjoy each other's company, Jules is married to William, with whom she has a child. Jules also works for a major newspaper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and her presence in public with someone other than her spouse could be problematic for her career. The relationship ends abruptly one snowy evening, however, when Jules is killed in a car accident. Eventually, William, a recovering alcoholic, finds out about the affair and confronts Erin in the bar where she works. But the confrontation, though heated, is moot; Jules is dead, so what does William want from Erin? What had Jules wanted from her? And what does Erin, who was once a rising music star in Nashville, Tennessee, want now that she has no real reason to stay in Milwaukee?
The novel considers these questions, weaving them together with the characters' pasts to create a love triangle of flawed people making flawed decisions. The death of Jules near the beginning of the story makes for an unusual setup, though, and as readers watch William figure out that his wife was cheating on him--thanks, mostly, to information on Jules' cellphone--any sense of tension surrounding the affair is extinguished. Instead, what pushes the story forward is the question of what those left behind will manage to do without Jules--a pressing and ultimately rewarding exploration.
Klinger-Krebs succinctly portrays William's ambivalence, in particular; after discovering his wife's affair, William expresses, rather adroitly, that "as much as I hate her right now, I loved her one hundred times more." Indeed, the book is at its best when it explores the mixed feelings that make relationships what they are.
What this story lacks in suspense, it makes up with an honest investigation of love and loss.
On Burning Mirrors by Jamie Klinger-Krebs is a story about individuals who have to come to terms with a hard truth, whether it's about themselves or someone they loved. Forty-year-old Jules Kanter was a gifted long-time editor and Journal Sentinel columnist who was tragically killed in a car accident on a snowy January night. She left a husband, Will, and a six-year-old daughter, Jillian. The grief-stricken Will tries hard to move on until he discovers that Jules was having an affair with Erin, a talented musician who lost her career in Nashville and became a bartender. When Will confronts Erin, it dawns on both of them that there's more to Jules than they'll ever know. They both learn to get to know her all over again through each other, her secret letters to herself and an unpublished column.
The chemistry, depth, and warmth of the characters resonate through the pages as easily as their anger, sadness, and sense of betrayal. The portrayals of Jules, Will, and Erin are realistic, never turning into pure melodrama. I knew several people who I can easily put in Jules' place, good people who betrayed their loved ones not because they were bad people or wanted to hurt anyone, but because they finally had the courage to pursue what they really wanted in life－to put it simply, they were 'Jules'. On Burning Mirrors is a deeply thought-provoking and affecting story that will linger in readers' mind for quite some time. Issues such as sexual prejudice, addictions, social stigma, and mental health are dealt with quite well. All in all, a worthy read.
On Burning Mirrors by Jamie Klinger-Krebs is, essentially, a love story. But what a complex love story! The person at the center of this sensitively told love story is Jules, an arts and entertainment columnist, mother to six-year-old Jillian, wife to the good, but insecure ex-alcoholic, Will, and the part-time lover of a lesbian singer/songwriter, Erin. The potential for pain and hurt is huge if Will ever finds out about Jules and Erin. Both women are suffering with many issues from their pasts, but while readers are often privy to Erin’s thoughts on her history and her current involvement with Jules, what Jules is feeling is mostly hidden from Erin, Will and those who decide to read On Burning Mirrors.
What Jules is all about comes to light, bit by bit, after Jules is suddenly killed in a traffic accident. The author’s method of revealing the now dead Jules to readers is through a technique that can be annoying if not properly handled: flashbacks. Happily, with the same skill that Jamie Klinger-Krebs exhibits in handling dialogue, she easily slides us into and out of those flashbacks. Both Erin and Will are mourning the loss of the woman they loved. Then Will, to his shock, finds out about Jules’ affair with Erin. Erin also has reason to believe that Jules may have betrayed her trust in another way. Amazing how easily deep hurt can affect love, even bringing on feelings of hate. Will and Erin each suffer in their own private hell until Will decides he must confront Erin. What happens thereafter is totally unexpected and keeps readers turning the pages of On Burning Mirrors.
The central theme of this very moving novel is stated through Jules toward the end of the book: “Even if it kills you, real love is always worth the risk.” Erin and Jules take a risk in loving each other. Will takes a risk when he confronts Erin because he needs to know Jules did really love him and he was worthy of her love. Erin’s mother, a secondary but needed character in understanding Erin, is yet another example of real love. While primarily a love story, On Burning Mirrors also addresses important social and career issues like sexual gender preferences, gender bias and drug usage in the music industry, along with a needed wariness of media and newspaper reporting. This is a novel that keeps readers thinking while they are enjoying the story…and even after they have closed the book. Well done!