Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today is my stop on the blog tour for the young adult contemporary novel, Paradise On Fire, and I’m sharing with you my review and Top Five Reasons To Read. You can find the schedule with the selection of posts coming up here. Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for everything as always.
Trigger / Content Warnings: Flashbacks and nightmares of household fire, wild fire, parental death
Addy is haunted by the tragic fire that killed her parents, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. Now, years later, Addy’s grandmother has enrolled her in a summer wilderness program. There, Addy joins five other Black city kids—each with their own troubles—to spend a summer out west.
Deep in the forest the kids learn new (and to them) strange skills: camping, hiking, rock climbing, and how to start and safely put out campfires. Most important, they learn to depend upon each other for companionship and survival.
But then comes a devastating forest fire…
Addy is face-to-face with her destiny and haunting past. Developing her courage and resiliency against the raging fire, it’s up to Addy to lead her friends to safety. Not all are saved. But remembering her origins and grandmother’s teachings, she’s able to use street smarts, wilderness skills, and her spiritual intuition to survive.
Rating: 3 stars
Addy as a character is dealing with a lot. She carries the weight of her trauma through her need to know the risk factors and routes at all times, constantly drawing maps and in search of the exits. It’s evident through what is written that she is so much more than her trauma – but that it takes a leading role in her life.
Leo runs the wilderness camp that the city kids are visiting, and he is unsurprised by Addy’s difficulties, having evidently had struggles of his own. He helps guide her to learn about the terrain and about how to make proper geographical maps, which become absolutely vital to her as the book progresses.
The jolting way this story is told, interspersed with maps, instructions and images, allows for a realistic story told from someone on high alert. This is a powerful book in so many ways. However, I really take issue with the idea of “girl goes through trauma, girl benefits from trauma in the long run” as a writing technique, as I think it belittles the realities of dealing with trauma or PTSD.
Top Five Reasons To Read
- Friendships made despite walls up
- Unexpected comfort
- Descriptions of trauma responses
- Beauty to be found in nature
About The Author
Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for adults, two writing guides, and a memoir, but writing for children remained her dream.
Now she is the author of seven books for children including the New York Times bestsellers Ghost Boys and Black Brother, Black Brother. Her other books include Towers Falling, and the Louisiana Girls Trilogy: Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic. Her forthcoming novel, Paradise on Fire, will publish in September 2021. She has also published six adult novels, two writing guides, and a memoir.
Jewell has received numerous honors including the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing, and a Coretta Scott King Honor.
When she’s not writing, she’s visiting schools to talk about her books with the kids who read them, or teaching writing at Arizona State University, where she is the Piper Endowed Chair and Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
Thanks for stopping by for today’s blog post, be sure to check out the rest of this week’s posts, and keep an eye out for new posts every day.