After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival
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After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival

4.5 27
by Robin Gaby Fisher
     
 

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Every so often we encounter a story that makes us cry and makes us strong, that makes us want to hug our children and call our old friends. This bestselling book captures just such a drama in all its heartrending drama.

On January 19, 2000, a fire raged through a SetonHalldormitory, killing three students and injuring 58 others. Among the victims were

Overview

Every so often we encounter a story that makes us cry and makes us strong, that makes us want to hug our children and call our old friends. This bestselling book captures just such a drama in all its heartrending drama.

On January 19, 2000, a fire raged through a SetonHalldormitory, killing three students and injuring 58 others. Among the victims were Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos, roommates from poor neighborhoods who had made their families proud by getting into college.

After the Fire is the story of Shawn and Alvaro's fight to recover from the worst damage St. Barnabas Hospital's burn unit had ever seen. It is the story of doctors and nurses who work with those terribly touched by fire. It is the story of mothers and fathers, of faith and family. And it is the story of the women who loved these men, who knew that real beauty is a thing not seen in mirrors.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Three students died and 58 were injured in the January 2000 fire that arsonists set in the student lounge of Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Newark Star Ledger reporter Fisher tells the story of the two "most badly burned" survivors (roommates Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos), proceeding from the devastating fire through the grueling medical treatment into their life-affirming future. A medical education and a detective story unfold within this consistently dramatic account, as Fisher joins a reporter's curiosity and objectivity to a near-familial access to the principals. Unsparing in her description of the hard path to recovery ("The gruesome nature of the work meant that few ever became old-timers in the occupation of treating burns"), Fisher takes the reader inside Saint Barnabas Burn Center, where the charismatic director of the burn unit, Hani Mansour; the nurses; the physical and occupational therapists work miracles, celebrating victories and agonizing over setbacks. Honest and intimate in her account of the stress of "distraught parents," the intense strain upon marriages and relationships, the prolonged suffering and multiple surgeries of the survivors and the evolving friendship of the accidental roommates, Fisher conveys a deep respect and compassion for all involved-except the arsonists. She succeeds in making what might have been yesterday's news into today's inspiration. (Aug.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Expanded from her series of articles in the Newark Star-Ledger, Pulitzer Prize finalist Fisher's first book follows freshman roommates, badly burned in the January 2000 Seton Hall University dorm fire, as they recover and rebuild their lives. Writing in a straightforward, reportorial style, the author chronicles the ordeal of Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos, illustrates their lighthearted personalities and loving friendship and rounds out the picture by including the perspectives of their families, the head of the burn unit at Saint Barnabas Hospital and the burn nurses. This action-driven, summarizing approach works well for straight narrative, but falls short in examining the complex psychological difficulties Shawn and Alvaro suffered after experiencing such a massive trauma so early in their lives. Essential questions are answered simplistically. What is it like for a carefree, handsome young man to be suddenly disfigured and to lose his youthful sense of invincibility? It's difficult, the author tells us. How do parents cope when their beloved sons might die? Big surprise: Well-adjusted people do better than anxious ones. The author glosses over an unplanned pregnancy and the undercurrent of class conflict in the attendant arson case. Fisher's heroic portraits of Shawn and Alvaro are similarly airbrushed; more recognition of their human fallibility would increase the text's realism and impact. The strongest material deals with Alvaro's 17-year-old girlfriend Angie, too young to deal well with the changes his injuries bring. Fisher's account of their devolving relationship enhances readers' emotional understanding of the fire's effect on its victims in a way that the rest of thebook does not. Dramatic but shallow. Agent: Peter McGuigan/Foundry Literary + Media
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A riveting and intimate read. That these two men survived is almost a miracle. That Fisher was there to document it is our good fortune."
Rocky Mountain News
"Keep some Kleenex handy."
From the Publisher
"A riveting and intimate read. That these two men survived is almost a miracle. That Fisher was there to document it is our good fortune." —Minneapolis Star Tribune"

Keep some Kleenex handy."—Rocky Mountain News

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316066211
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
08/25/2008
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Robin Gaby Fisher is a nationally acclaimed news feature writer with The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey. She has won one Pulitzer Prize and has twice been a Pulitzer finalist.

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After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
ValS1 More than 1 year ago
This book grabbed my attention most of the time. It is hard to think of what these 2 kids had to go through. It is a very sad book and be prepared to hear some scary and gory things. Shawn and Alvaro are the main characters who are really close room-mates and Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Their dormitory building caught fire and it went downhill from there. Robin Gaby Fisher (The Author) really does a good job expressing emotions. The book ends very happy so don't worry about a bad/sad ending.
read4lifeDB More than 1 year ago
This book captured my attention from the beginning to the very end. Very well written. These guys went through so much pain, it's hard to grasp the reality of it. I don't know if I would of been as strong as either one of them. Their friendship is beyond belief.
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OKMinty More than 1 year ago
Not just a story of a tragic fire, but the story of two men overcoming one of the roughest trials life can throw. It is not only their story but also tells of the people who have dedicated their lives to helping burn victims. The heroes in this book are not known by name to most people. They work everyday to help people who have suffered burns through not fault of their own. At the same time it shows how the human will can overcome very very tough obstacles. This book grabs you very early on and doesn't let go. Would make a great movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a beautifully written book. The concentration was on the bravery of these young men to push forward and not let the scars and limitations destroy their lives. The saddest part was the persons responsible for the fire not wanting to admit blame and offer an apology for their irresponsible behavior. I know these young men will make good lives for themselves and I wish them all the luck and peace their faith can bring them.
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divadog More than 1 year ago
What a tale of courage and cowardice. I came away with a deep appreciation of the courage of the fire victims, tremendous respect for their caregivers and a deep loathing for the irresponsible cowards to started the fire. The two boys profiled in this story are an amazing example of friendship and everything meant by that simple word. I was deeply affected by their indomitable spirits.
bfisher More than 1 year ago
Fisher portrayed this story in such a heartwrenching, and inspiring way. As I read it, I felt like I was there. I had to keep a box of tissues next to me. I couldn't put it down. This is by far, the best book I have ever read! To explain how beautiful this story is just isn't possible. No words can describe the feelings you get when reading it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This author has done a very tremendous and extraordinary job!!! When i picked up this book and started reading the first few chapters tears began to appear in my eyes!!! i couldnt take my eyes off this book. Shawn and Alvaro you guys are hereos!! Shawn you are a true friend to Alvaro, u stuck by his side all the way, 100 percent. Alvaro......u shocked me!!! i was sooo glad that u pulled through! It was through the almighty God up above that you are here today. So glad you young men have moved on with your lives and made families! One more thing....Fisher keep up the good work...good job!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply put, a beautiful book. Well written, heartfelt and touching without being sappy. Fisher does a great job of capturing the personality and spirit of Shawn and Alvaro and their families as well as the doctors and nurses who saved their lives. You will find yourself rooting for all of them to survive and succeed. I usually avoid victim stories because they can be overwritten. But Fisher doesn't get in the way of the drama of the story. I stayed up late and got up early to finish this book and never regretted losing the sleep.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After the Fire has helped me rediscover my love for reading!!! I was drawn to the story emotionally from page one because of the vivid details that welcomed me into the lives of the characters. As a resident of nearby Newark, and having friends who experienced the horrific event first-hand, the book allowed me to revisit a life-changing part of history and reminded me of life's blessings. I experienced a host of feelings while turning the pages of this biography. As my emotions journeyed with the accounts of the individuals, I often joked with my friends about the reason I had to take frequent breaks from reading. 'The book is making me dehydrated,' I would say. But I loved every emotion that it evoked, and I would recommend it to anyone trying to refind their passion for reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book tells such an amazing story of the trials faced by and the deep friendship formed by Shawn and Alvaro after they were both horribly burned in the Seton Hall dormitory fire. It tells the story of all the people who fought to save them and those who stood by their sides as they faced more hardship at age 18 than most people ever face in their entire life. This book left me in tears so many times -- tears of sadness, tears of frustration and tears of joy. It is truly an inspirational book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robin Fisher did an outstanding job on her first book. Shawn and Alvaro allowed not only Robin into their lives but readers from around the world. The way Robin explains in great detail the sites and smells of the hospital rooms and the feelings and frustrations of the guys and their families, she makes it feel almost like you are there seeing it and feeling it first hand. I found myself on more than one occasion cringing in pain as she describes the painful therapy sessions and laughing along with the group as Alvaro explains to Jabril, another burn unit patient that people stare at him because he is cute!!! From cover to cover this book is AMAZING!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is remarkable, inspirational, sensitive, uplifting, motivating, etc.etc.etc This book highlights the will power, determination, hearts, & zest for life that these two young men have. It is also a well written book. High 5ssss to Robin Fisher for the vivid descriptions. To be your first book, you did an awesome job. Be prepared to cry, shake your head, laugh(a lil),and just give thanks for all the many blessings that you have in your life. This book will really make you stop, take a look at your life and just think. I received this book in the mail Fri afternoon and finished it Sat morning. Once you start, you can't stop.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. People Magazine gave it 'four out of four stars' so I picked it up on Wednesday and rushed home from work on Thursday and Friday so I could get back to it. Finished last night. It's special.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From experience, people feel when they are going through times of turmoil that they are the only ones. Being a victim of a crime has put me in a position where I am aware of my surroundings. Reading After the Fire gave me a sense of insight that someone, somewhere, at some point will go through something that will alter their lives forever. Thus, it is important that when its your time to go through that you come out of your experience with what Shawn and Alvaro has- a determination to live, a loyalty to their lives, a sound mind, confidence, and most of all- friendship. To those whom have not read Robin Gaby Fisher¿s After the Fire, you must. And, expect to feel the heat from the heartfelt words, expect to see pass the fire, and expect a rainbow at the end!