Content Warnings: Wild Fires, Parental Death
From award-winning and bestselling author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful coming-of-age survival tale exploring issues of race, class, and climate change
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.
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.
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.
My ReviewParadise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Exciting and immediately absorbing; I loved it!
Yes, I loved this book! With interesting young leading characters, all with their own issues and fears, the story evolves, and the tension steadily increases until you find yourself smack in the middle of some honest-to-goodness pulse-pounding action. I almost thought I was breathing the fresh air and, later, choking on ash and embers. The characters were so very engaging that I was much affected as things unfolded. The story easily and totally absorbed me from start to finish.
In addition to the exciting story, the very serious themes of climate change, ecological degradation, and the need for environmental protection come through the action. These concepts with consequences are presented simply and straightforwardly so the youngest readers will understand, and older ones will not feel it’s too preachy.Paradise on Fire is an unforgettable adventure story that is perfect for middle grades, high school, and readers who enjoyed Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from NetGalley.