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"The best thing to do for someone who thinks he’s lost his whole life is to make him feel like it’s been given back to him.

That’s why I can do this. Fire can fix it."

William Tucker always does the right thing. He excels at high school, works at the grocery store, passes out bulletins at his father’s church, and still finds time to fight fires as the newest volunteer firefighter in Coosa Creek, Alabama.

But ...

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"The best thing to do for someone who thinks he’s lost his whole life is to make him feel like it’s been given back to him.

That’s why I can do this. Fire can fix it."

William Tucker always does the right thing. He excels at high school, works at the grocery store, passes out bulletins at his father’s church, and still finds time to fight fires as the newest volunteer firefighter in Coosa Creek, Alabama.

But no matter how many good deeds William does, it never seems like enough. So when his father’s expectations and the community’s hypocrisy become too much to bear, William’s obsession with doing good transforms into something far more dangerous.

"Gibson pens authentic Southern, small-town teenspeak and settings that add fuel to the fires (so to speak) of William's life. Compelling."—KIRKUS REVIEWS

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Suanne Roush
William Tucker is the son of a minister who preaches fire and brimstone, and sets an example of piety that hides problems at home. The litany, "remember who you are," has influenced every move his sons have made. William has chosen the path of hero as a volunteer fireman while still in high school. He feels the need to be larger than life to negate the nickname "Wee-Wee," given to him due to his diminutive height and an incident in middle school when a classmate pulled down his pants in P.E. class. His younger brother, Steven, in contrast, uses the statement as a rallying cry to be himself, so he publicly comes out as gay. After saving a fellow student during a class experiment that goes wrong, William enjoys the praise, but is frustrated by the hypocrisy of the adults around him. Taking a lesson from his father's sermons, he decides the townspeople need a baptism by fire, and begins setting fires to save people he thinks need help. After his father throws Steven out of the house, and the Fire Chief confronts him about setting the fires, William decides his family also needs a fire. Although an easy read that should appeal to reluctant readers, students could find it difficult to get past the main character's nickname and will stop reading before getting far into the novel. Also annoying is the characters' constant bad grammar. It is doubtful that the Pastor's sons would be allowed to speak this way. Purchase only where the collection needs more books with male main characters. Reviewer: Suanne Roush
ALAN Review - Judith A. Hayn
Wee Wee Tucker appears to be the stereotypical preacher's son who is growing up in the predictability of small town Alabama. However, William's life is complicated by a didactic father who hides in Biblical references; an alcoholic mother who buries herself in the bottle; and Steve, his younger brother, who is determined to come out at the Homecoming Dance. Then Samantha Johnson arrives from Iowa and becomes his black best friend, although he has difficulty buying into her social justice plans and subsequent actions. He is too busy trying to impress his childhood crush, popular and pretty Mandy. Will is a short guy, and his dreams of dating Mandy appear to be doomed until his volunteer firefighter escapades earn him praise and respect. Will the single spark that can cause a destructive blaze be able to help him find solutions to all these problems, especially who he really is? Reviewer: Judith A. Hayn
Kirkus Reviews
A good-ol'-boy teen firefighter might not be quite as good as he seems. At first glance, Alabama country bumpkin Wee Wee—short for William—seems like the perfect small-town hero. He regularly goes to the church where his daddy preaches. He sticks up for the underdogs, including his gay younger brother and Samantha, a beautiful African-American teen girl who's new in town. Finally, despite his alcoholic mother's worries, he's also the town's finest volunteer firefighter. Gibson packs in a good number of rescue scenes that will have readers racing through the pages. What they don't realize, however, is that William may actually have more of hand in these fires than it seems. The psychological reasoning provided for his motives feels shaky, but readers will definitely do a double take and even reread some of the more shocking moments. Gibson pens authentic Southern, small-town teenspeak and settings that add fuel to the fires (so to speak) of William's life. Readers know he's torn between his father's religious teachings and doing the right thing for his brother, but deep inside he secretly relishes the cleansing flames of fire. Readers know that it's only a matter of time before he gets caught by the law or by his own doings, and they will find waiting for it compelling reading. (Fiction. 13 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738730950
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 8/8/2012
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 1,381,124
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

A native Mississippian, Heath Gibson, discovered the joy of children’s literature as an adult. Since falling in love with the genre, he has used the unique landscape, people, and voices of the South to fuel his writing. He holds an MFA in children’s literature from Hollins University, a bachelor’s degree in communication from Mississippi State University, and a degree in English education from the University of Southern Mississippi. Currently, Gibson teaches English at a high school in Atlanta. He is the author of Gigged and Burn, both published by Flux. Visit him online at HeathGibson.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Open publication - Free publishing - More alabama

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Burn offers us a unique look into a small town and a dysfunction

    Burn offers us a unique look into a small town and a dysfunctional preacher’s family. It held my attention from page one and touched on some sensitive social subjects. Gibson takes us into the heart of a small Alabama town and the mind of one young man who resides there.

    The tale begins when we meet William “Wee-Wee” Tucker. He is a high school student and trained volunteer firefighter. As the son of the local Baptist preacher he appears to be an outstanding pillar of the community. As the author takes us into Wee-Wee’s mind and introduces us to his family and friends, we quickly learn there are dark secrets here. This character driven novel, full of thought provoking messages sent me on an emotional ride as I tried to determine my feelings for this captivating tale.

    Wee-Wee is a bright, dependable young man. Town folk would say he is polite and always does the right thing. He works at the local market, saved for his own car, respects his parents, attends church and protects his brother. After going to his first fire, he feels a rush. He has a crush on Mandy Pearman, but she sees him as her best bud. He wants to fix things around him, about him, and others and begins to look for ways to make things right. The Tucker family is complex. They are all covering up a secret about Tucker’s Mom. Tucker’s brother, Steven, is adorable and incredibly brave at times. He too has a secret and decides to be open about it. The town and his father might not be able to handle it. Tucker’s Dad is always concerned about the family’s image even at the cost to his family. I got chills when he said, “Remember who you are, son.” My favorite character was Samantha; she is a new student and shakes things up. She is very comfortable about who she is, and what she stands for. Other characters aid in rounding out the events, foreshadowing and believability.

    Gibson’s writing style is enjoyable and the plot flowed as he took us into Wee-Wee’s mind. His approach to the subject matter was interesting and thought provoking. Young readers who long to be heroes would benefit from reading this. While I didn’t completely connect with Wee-Wee, Heath did an excellent job of portraying his inner struggles, explaining his thought process and making his actions believable. The ending was chilling.

    Burn offers an interesting tale and was worth the read. This would be an excellent book for a young reader’s book club as it offers up some fantastic topics to discuss. I have added Heath Gibson to my author’s to watch list and would definitely read more of his work.

    I want to thank Flux and netGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

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