Book Review/’Wildfire’ – Lewiston Sun Journal
by Rodman Philbrick
Fires is a Junior Fiction Maine Student Book Award shortlist for 2020-2021. You will see familiar town names such as Skowhegan, Baxter State Park, Wells, Bar Harbor, etc.
Although the novel is current realist fiction, the author, who lives in Maine and Florida, based this suspenseful soap opera on the devastating Great Maine Fire of 1947 that scorched homes, towns and forests. on the coast of Maine.
Sam, a 12-year-old boy from Wells, Maine, whose father died in Afghanistan and whose mother is in rehab due to a prescription drug she became addicted to, is sent to a refugee camp. summer in the heart of the forests of northern Maine.
A wildfire, which engulfed 15,000 acres of dry woodland in just 2 days, is getting worse and heading towards its camp. All campers and counselors are evacuated to a bus. Sam goes back to his room to retrieve his phone. When he returns outside, there is so much dense smoke that he is unable to find the bus. He is lost and alone.
Traveling through the forest with his lungs full of smoke and his eyes seared with pain, he finds an abandoned temporary shelter and a Korean War-era jeep. The Jeep becomes a major player in Wildfire.
Traveling by Jeep, Sam meets a 14-year-old girl, Delphy, from another summer camp who also missed a bus evacuation because she was in the woods waiting to meet someone she had. met online.
Together, Sam and Delphy encounter terrifying obstacles in this intense romance. The wisdom Sam remembers from his father on their treks and Delphy’s scientific knowledge is what they rely on from obstacle to obstacle.
They also saw the arsonists start some of the fires…and in turn, the arsonists witnessed it! Sam and Delphy are desperate to escape both the raging, rapid fire and the arsonists.
Wildfire is packed with factual information and story wisdom that can be helpful to you or anyone lost in the forest and/or trying to flee a wildfire. Also, at the end of the book, there is a list of “Survival Tips” to help you and your family plan your escape and help you survive a wildfire.
I’ll leave you with just a little wisdom from Sam’s dad. “…determine which direction is north.” If the sun is low in the sky and you know it is afternoon, place the sun to your left and you will be facing north.” What a great reminder!