Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publishing Date: September 14, 2021
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. 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.
I was aware of Paradise on Fire after seeing it on Netgalley and after reading the blurb I immediately knew that I really wanted to read it and so when TBR Tours & Beyond announced that were doing a blog tour I jumped at the chance. I am very grateful that I was allocated a place on the tour and big thank you to the publisher for gifting me a digital copy of this outstanding Middle Grade Book.
From the outset I knew this book was going to take me on an incredible journey seen through the eyes of Addy who was such an amazing main character and the other youngsters on the wilderness trip without leaving my sofa. I felt the danger, the joy everything the characters were feeling and near to the end I ended up crying. Jewell is such a talented writer everything in the book felt real and her message about climate change resonated too. I am now thinking what I can do living in the UK. I am not going into any spoiler territory what I will say read this book you will not be disappointed also I believe it will make a very interesting discussions about the issues brought up in this book. This is my first ever Jewell Parker Rhodes book and I have a few more I have in my library but I now want to read everything she has written. I feel so honoured that I got to read this wonderful book before publication. So for all these reasons I had to give it 5 stars