Astrid Krieger has pretty much everything she needs to be happy: a rocket ship prototype on her parents’ estate to live in, good looks, money to burn and a grandfather who both loves her and can be counted on to bail her out of a jam (even the kinds of jams that require diplomatic immunity). So she’s more than a little upset when her latest shenanigan lands her in—horror of horrors—public school. Not that she had a choice in the matter; her expulsion from the Bristol Academy sealed the deal. Astrid may be a Firecracker, but she’s no match for the kids at Cadorette High.

Author David Iserson’s writing background is in film and television (“SNL,” “New Girl”), and his debut novel benefits from his ability to frame a comic scene for maximum laughs. When Astrid makes two very left-of-popular friends, her observations of one’s birthday party—which includes her sort-of-boyfriend’s attempt to get the nonexistent crowd dancing to an iPod full of French horn music—are priceless: “It was a depressing party. I’m sure there have been memorial services for school buses crashing into puppy stores with more celebration.”

Astrid has some lessons to learn about life, love, school dances, fake friends and the penalties for arson, but for every touching moment there are big laughs, foul language and new, strange characters to meet. If there’s a lot to keep track of, it’s all smart, fantastical fun. Firecracker will start your summer reading off with—it has to be said—a bang.

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