Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Framed in Fire

Framed in Fire

4.7 4
by David Patneaude

See All Formats & Editions

Peter’s been sent to Resthaven Hospital because his stepfather thinks Peter is emotionally disturbed and wants to harm his younger half-brother, Lincoln. But Peter loves Lincoln, and Peter is the only one who knows about Lincoln’s unusual dreams. And Peter’s mom has been lying to him about his real dad. If his dad died, why can’t he find any


Peter’s been sent to Resthaven Hospital because his stepfather thinks Peter is emotionally disturbed and wants to harm his younger half-brother, Lincoln. But Peter loves Lincoln, and Peter is the only one who knows about Lincoln’s unusual dreams. And Peter’s mom has been lying to him about his real dad. If his dad died, why can’t he find any information about the fishing boat accident that was supposed to have killed him? With the help of Lincoln and some friends from Resthaven, Peter begins a journey that could change his life forever. 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although the plot quickly drifts into the realm of the improbable, readers willing to suspend disbelief will find an above-average potboiler. From the beginning it is clear that narrator Peter is neither hyperactive nor crazy, despite the allegations of his villainous stepfather Buck (owner of Buck Champagne Motors). Buck, however, holds an unexplained grudge against Peter and convinces doctors to commit him to a psychiatric hospital. Once at Resthaven, where most of the story takes place, Peter receives frequent phone calls from his psychic younger half-brother, who convinces Peter that his real father, who supposedly died years ago, is still alive. With the help of two fellow "inmates" (flat caricatures of an anorexic girl and a traumatized boy) and a compassionate aide, Peter makes a daring escape from the hospital in order to learn the truth about his father's disappearance. The story's mix of fast-paced action, psychological drama and family conflict, all spiced with a pinch of the paranormal, has mass appeal. Patneaude's (The Last Man's Reward) one-sided appraisal of psychiatrists and "evil" stepfathers may raise some eyebrows, but will not necessarily stop pages from turning. Ages 11-14. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Melissa A. Caudill
Peter is an ordinary teenager who occasionally gets into a playground fight at school. Buck, his uncaring stepfather successfully convinces Peter's mother and doctor to have Peter admitted to a hospital for troubled youths and to take medication for depression. There, Peter meets several mixed-up, but loyal friends at this group home. He has a growing affection for an anorexic girl named Sarah who stands by him when he needs her the most. Also, a technician named Edward befriends Peter and with his help Peter discovers that his mother may have been lying to him about his real father's alleged death when he was a toddler. Determined to discover the truth and escape from the group home, Edward and Peter set off to try to locate his father. This is a realistic, suspenseful story that will capture readers' attention and keep them moving on to the next chapter.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Peter Larson's father died in an accident-at least that's the story his mother has always told him. The boy has an increasingly hostile relationship with his verbally abusive stepfather, Buck, and some scuffles at school, but is basically a good kid. While he deals with his ambivalent feelings toward his parents, his younger half-brother, Lincoln, reports having "real dreams"-visions, actually, of events in their lives. The youngster's ability to "see" a fire at a neighbor's house helps to avert a disaster, but in the commotion, Lincoln falls down the stairs and Buck accuses Peter of deliberately trying to harm the toddler. The next stop for Peter is the Resthaven Psychiatric Facility where the staff, except for the psychiatrist Buck insists on dealing with, take a supportive role in trying to get the family back in balance. It's lonely and confusing in the hospital, but Peter finds consolation in an old favorite storybook. One day, its familiar bookplate comes loose, and Peter finds evidence that his mother has lied to him about his father. He wonders what else she has lied about and if his father might still be alive. So begins Peter's quest to find out the truth. Patneaude's story has enough tension and suspense to keep the pages turning. The book tackles many serious issues, including parental kidnapping, ADD, blended families, and teenage depression. The characters are well rounded enough to remain believable. This story of a teen in search of his identity is a good addition for most collections.-Roxanne Burg, Thousand Oaks Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Patneaude (The Last Man's Reward, 1996, etc.) hatches a silly plot and one-dimensional characters, but preteens might enjoy this piece of escapist entertainment about a boy wrongly committed to a mental asylum. Peter's weak-willed mother has lied to him all his life about his real father, allegedly dead. Peter doesn't get along with his stepfather, a car salesman, who schemes to have him committed by a corrupt psychiatrist. In the asylum, Peter befriends two disturbed inmates and a health technician who help him escape. Among the absurd plot concoctions: Peter's five-year-old half-brother, Lincoln, is psychic, allowing Peter extraordinary access to clues he needs to find his real father; and that his father has been searching for Peter all along. Patneaude resurrects elements from his first novel, Someone Was Watching (1993), in which a supposedly drowned sister has really been kidnapped, and in which a cross-country trip unfolds without much mishap. His writing style, however, is so robust that even if readers find little remotely connected to reality in these pages, there's more than enough suspense in the fast-paced narrative to keep them entertained. (Fiction. 8-13)

From the Publisher

"Patneaude's story has enough tension and suspense to keep the pages turning."

School Library Journal

Product Details

Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
267 KB
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Framed in Fire

By David Patneaude


Copyright © 1999 David Patneaude
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-6649-4


Before Buck, before I knew the word stepfather, I thought of the pieces of my life as normal and normal-sized. But then my life was changed by a big man with big ideas and big cars. After Buck and my mom got married, there was a big house, a bigger family, a big baby brother named Lincoln.

I was at our neighbor's house when Buck called from the hospital. "A boy," Mrs. Demmert said to me, smiling, still on the phone. Then her eyebrows went up. "Twelve pounds, fifteen ounces!"

They brought Lincoln home. My mom seemed exhausted, but Buck looked proud — prouder even than on his TV commercials, where he pushed those big fancy cars and invited folks to come in and take a test drive at Buck Champagne Motors, Brown County's only Lincoln Mercury dealer.

The changes took a new direction: It was Lincoln this and Lincoln that, and oh, yeah, what's new with you, Peter? Nothing was new with me, except that I felt myself fading, like a watercolor that's been thinned down so much it becomes transparent.

What kept me from vanishing altogether was a surprise: Lincoln. Before he was born, I'd decided not to like him, and for a couple of weeks afterward I succeeded. Until he smiled at me. Until he grasped my finger with his doughy little hand and squeezed. I found myself spending more and more time in his room, playing with him or just watching him sleep. By the time he could walk, he could say my name. "Petah," he would say as he followed me around the house like a sturdy shadow. Sometimes it almost seemed like he knew what I was going to do next.

As Lincoln got older, he became the real centerpiece of our household. I got older, too; I thought I was doing okay. Not everyone agreed.

I was ten or eleven years old when I heard Buck mention the word hyperactive for the first time. His friend Lowell, Buck told my mom, had a hyperactive kid. Buck went on and on about how the kid acted, the doctor he saw, the pills he took.

What's the point? I wondered. But then Buck took my breath away; he slipped my name into the conversation like it belonged there, like Lowell's kid and I were partners in crime.

The first surprise was that he'd brought up my name at all. What I'd come to expect from Buck was about what he gave our dog, Cowboy: food, shelter, a command now and then. The second stunner was that he felt so free to talk about me while I was right there, as if I really was just a dog. But the real shocker was hearing him try to convince my mom there was something wrong with my head.

She danced around the subject the first few times Buck brought it up. "Do you really think so?" she'd say, or "Interesting." And that would put him off for a while — months, sometimes. But I'd have some problems, and he'd bring up the topic again and again. Each time it emerged more powerful, harder to ignore.

My problems weren't a big mystery. I'd heard the complaints, I'd seen the worried looks, I'd carried home notes from my teachers. Over the years I'd been to the principal's office on several occasions — three times since I'd started seventh grade. I hadn't considered that any of that stuff meant I was hyperactive, whatever that was. I thought I was just being a kid. I didn't like labels; I didn't like the feel of Buck's words, the way my mom got defensive. What was he up to? Who could help me figure it out?

My buddy Dillon was a year older than me. A year smarter, I figured. I decided to ask him what he thought.

We were at his house, watching a Rangers game on TV. I wasn't really watching or listening. I was thinking about Buck and his mysterious campaign. "Buck's trying to mess with me," I blurted out.

Dillon hit the mute button and looked at me from the other end of the couch. "What do you mean?"

I told him about Buck's friend with the hyperactive kid, how Buck had the idea clenched between his teeth like a bulldog with a bone.

"Hyperactive?" Dillon said. "You?"

"Sometimes now Buck calls it something different: ADD, or ADHD. He thinks he's a doctor. So far my mom isn't convinced."

"I knew some kids at my old school that were hyperactive."

"How could you tell?" I said.

He shrugged. "Problems with their grades, or they'd be taking pills or seeing a counselor. Sometimes you just knew by the way they acted, or they'd be getting in trouble a lot."

"Like me?" I said. "You think Buck's right about me?

He touched the off button on the remote. The screen went blank, and he studied me in the silence. I figured he was recalling my behavior over the two years he'd lived next door.

"I know you pretty good by now," he said finally.


"So to me you're not hyperactive. To me you're pretty much regular."

"Pretty much regular?"

He smiled. "You're not always the easiest guy to get along with. Especially when Buck's involved."

"What do you think he's up to?" I said.

"Sounds like he wants your mom on his side."

"And then what?"

"I'd guess you'd be visiting a doctor."

"Could you just tell them I'm okay?" I said, but I knew the answer already.

"I'm a kid. They wouldn't care what I think."

"I don't want to go to a doctor."

"It wouldn't be so bad. The doctor's not going to make up something."

"Not so bad? Someone examining my life, trying to tell me how to live it?"

Dillon shrugged again. I could tell he didn't think this was such a big deal. Play Buck's game then. Do what he says. Stay out of trouble."

"No problem. Just like that."

"You can do it if you want."


He didn't have a quick answer, but by the end of the afternoon we'd come up with a plan.

For the next couple of months I did my best to follow it. Instead of playing video games and speed-surfing the TV channels when my mom and Buck were around, I'd play one-on-one with Dillon or shoot baskets alone or take a walk or read. I cleaned my room and hung up my clothes; I stayed at the dinner table till everyone was done. When I couldn't avoid Buck, I tried to be polite to him, even when he called me Petey. At school, I sat still in class and kept my mouth mostly shut. I did my classroom work; I did my homework; I wrote neater.

I stayed away from Blaine Corbett, who was the main reason I'd been in trouble at school. He and I were like oil and water. Our disagreements often grew into arguments, then shoving matches, then fist-flying, grappling, sweating, falling-down, bloody, clothes-trashing fights. It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was the ugliest, most in-your-face example of how far I needed to go to prove myself. I figured if I could put my problems with Blaine Corbett behind me, I'd be on my way.


I thought things were going okay. That's why I was surprised one day when I overheard Buck bringing up his friend's kid again. He was worse; they were thinking about putting him in a hospital. I knew what kind.

"What's that got to do with us, Buck?" my mom asked, while I hovered outside their bedroom door. That was all the opening he needed. He told her I was still behaving like Lowell's kid: I didn't pay attention; I was having trouble in school; I was fighting for no reason; I couldn't sit still; I was disrespectful; I was mean to Lincoln; blah, blah, blah.

I expected my mom to stick up for me. What did Buck know? He was a car salesman, not a doctor. And she did, kind of. She told him she'd noticed a big improvement; how could he not?

"It won't last," Buck said. "Unless we get him some help — some professional help — his true nature will come back."

"That's not fair," my mom said after a long pause. "Peter didn't have problems when he was younger."

"Before I came around, you mean?"

"That's not what I meant. But things did change for him, especially after Lincoln was born." Her voice sounded thick and unsteady.

"Lots of kids have younger brothers."

"Lincoln is much younger. A half-brother. Peter had me to himself for a long time."

"Those ain't excuses."

"They're explanations, Buck."

"Your explanations. I think we need an expert's opinion. It's not fair to Peter or the rest of this family for you to just stick your head in the sand."

I waited for my mom's response; it came as soft humming, musical, familiar. The argument was over. Buck's last words had been spit out in that ugly bully tone he used when he'd run out of patience. I hated it when he got that way.

I couldn't imagine my real dad being so stubborn. I knew there'd been a divorce before he died, but when I got my mom to talk about it at all, she blamed it on their being too young. She never said anything bad about my dad; she barely said anything at all about him. I only knew he'd drowned in a fishing accident.

My mom had given up the fight. Soon they were talking to my teacher, and the school counselor, and the principal. I started getting that Weird Kid treatment at school: different assignments, and double checking, and visits to the counselor, and special tests, and long stares from teachers. Dillon ignored it; he stuck with me. But the other kids noticed; they started to leave me out of things. I could feel their eyes on me whenever I was singled out for some of the lab-rat stuff.

I figured the exorcist would be next, but I guess Buck couldn't find one in the yellow pages. Instead, I got to go see Dr. Fiske. I'd been to him before for checkups and sore throats.

The two of us sat in one of his little rooms and just talked. We covered lots of things, but mostly stuff about me — school, my parents, Lincoln, my friends, what I liked to do. We spent most of the time talking about basketball. Finally, Dr. Fiske smiled, which I thought was a good sign, and shook hands with me. He asked me to wait while he went out and talked to my mom and Buck.

I think they didn't like what he told them; I think he told them there was nothing wrong with me. I didn't go back to see Dr. Fiske again.

On the advice of his buddy with the hyper kid, Buck handpicked the next guy. Dr. Lubber wasn't very old, but he had lots of degrees framed on his wall — a bunch more than Dr. Fiske had. He asked me a ton of questions, and every time I said anything, he'd move his little wire-rimmed glasses down to the end of his nose and stare at me like he was trying to look inside a damaged clock.

I sat up straight, answered his questions, acted myself. I counted his smiles — three, all phony. I gave him back twice as many, as real as I could get them. I was co-op-er-at-ing. But halfway through my answer to his question about why I hated Lincoln (I was trying to explain to him that I didn't), his snaky eyes, magnified by his glasses, got to me. I stopped, right in the middle of a sentence. I was tired. I was done.

He waited.

"I think your customers are lining up outside," I said.



"You're done talking, Peter?"

"I think you have your mind made up. I don't think you understand kids. I don't think you even like them."

He smiled again. Four phony ones now. And as he did I realized I was right: he didn't understand me; he didn't like me. He was exactly what Buck had been looking for. "I care about my patients, just as your parents care about you."


It was the wrong thing to say: he scribbled something on his note pad. Then we stared at each other for a while before he got up and showed me to the door, wearing phony smile number five. I sat out in the waiting room while he talked with my mom and Buck. They weren't in there very long, and when they came out, my mom would barely look at me. Buck was smiling. I knew I was in trouble.

By the next day I was taking two kinds of pills and struggling with the idea that I'd been officially declared different.

A week later, I'd lost energy, lost my appetite, lost my way. I felt like I'd been condemned without a trial. Desperate, I cornered my mom after school. She was in the backyard, stuffing a big wooden pot with yellow flowers while Lincoln played in the sandbox in the far corner of the yard.

"Can I talk to you, Mom?" I said.

She looked up and smiled a cautious smile. "What about, Peter?"


Her eyes got suspicious, and at first I thought maybe she was going to tell me no. But what would she use for an excuse? She stood, then perched her rear on the edge of a nearby bench and patted the space next to her. "Okay," she said. I sat. She folded her arms and stared into my eyes. She waited, but I wasn't sure how to begin. A trickle of sweat ran down my back and pooled at the top of my shorts.

"Do you really think there's something wrong with me, Mom?" I said finally.

She shrugged, like Dillon had. Her eyes clouded over. "I don't know," she said.

"Who does, then?"

"Dr. Lubber, I guess. He's the expert."

"So you're just going to believe what he says?"

"What choice do I have?"

"Can't I go see some other doctors? If they all think I'm nuts, I'll go along with it. But maybe they won't."

"Dr. Lubber's supposed to be the best around here. And nobody thinks you're nuts, Peter."

"Then why do I have to take the pills? They're making me sick."

She put her hands together in her lap and twisted her fingers until her knuckles cracked. "There's nothing wrong with taking medicine. It can be helpful. It's helped me."

I'd seen her bottles of pills lined up like chessmen across the back of her bathroom countertop. Childproof caps and names five syllables long and no explanation for why. But now I had a clue. Maybe the way she acted sometimes — jumpy and timid — wasn't just from Buck throwing his weight around. Maybe she had a problem inside her head. Maybe I inherited mine from her.

"What if the pills don't work?" I said. "What if Buck and Lubber still aren't happy with the way I'm acting?"

"I'm sure they'll work. I can see a difference already."

She was lying. I could tell by the way her eyes drifted away from me.

"What if they don't? What if they want to lock me up in a place with rubber walls and one-way mirrors, like Lowell's kid?"

"How do you know about that?"

"Why can't we just leave? We could go off somewhere — you, me, and Lincoln — and live on our own."

I expected her to look at me like I really was crazy, or send me to my room, but she didn't. She gazed off toward Lincoln, busy with his toy cars and noises, but her eyes weren't focusing on anything as close as the corner of our backyard. I waited, silent, for her to say something. Her hands were moving, trembling.

"Life's never perfect, Peter," she said finally, her voice soft and scratchy.

"Even though when you're a kid you think it should be."

"I don't think it should be perfect. I just want it to be the way it was."

"It wouldn't be."

"We could try."

"Buck's not a monster, Peter. He's not Superman, but I knew that when I married him. He's given me no reason to want to leave. He's good to me, great with Lincoln."

"And with me?"

She got up and went back to the flower pot, stabbing the trowel into the soft dirt, stuffing flowers into the holes, slapping the soil firm around the roots. She began humming to herself. It was a song we'd sung in church: "Sweet Hour of Prayer." I stood to leave. I figured she wasn't going to answer me.

Finally she stopped humming and looked up. Her eyes were wet. "You think leavings the answer, Peter? It's not. We'd have nothing."

"We'd have each other."

"That's not enough. You have to give Buck a chance. If you don't, your worst nightmare could come true."

She turned her back on me and speared at the dirt, slicing a stem in half. The flower fell to the ground between her knees. She picked it up with shaking hands and tried sticking it back in the soil. It flopped over. She ignored it; she ignored me. She dropped her hands and sat back on her heels and let her chin sink down to her chest. Her shoulders began jerking up and down; I knew she was crying. I thought maybe I should give her a hug, but it didn't seem right. This was my problem; I should be getting the hug. Why was she getting so upset?

I walked away, toward Lincoln, trying not to think about my worst nightmare. It was daytime; the sun was out; Lincoln was building a sand city for his little cars, putting the finishing touches on a new building. On top of it a rose-petal flag flew from a twig flagpole. Outside a red aid car and a white ambulance were parked. Lincoln looked up at me and smiled. "Will you play cars with me, Peter?" Peter, now. No more Petah.

I sat on the corner bricks and put my hand over his. He backed the ambulance out of the hospital parking lot and started making siren sounds. Heat rose from the little city and hung in the air around me, but I shivered.


Excerpted from Framed in Fire by David Patneaude. Copyright © 1999 David Patneaude. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

When David Patneaude was a youngster, his favorite story was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a tale of adventure, suspense, mystery, and best of all, buried treasure. David never found pirate plunder of his own, but now he digs for a different kind of hidden loot—story ideas. David lives in Woodinville, Washington, with his wife, a junior-high-school librarian. They have three grown children and two grandsons.   
 When David Patneaude was a youngster, his favorite story was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a tale of adventure, suspense, mystery, and best of all, buried treasure. David never found pirate plunder of his own, but now he digs for a different kind of hidden loot—story ideas. David lives in Woodinville, Washington, with his wife, a junior-high-school librarian. They have three grown children and two grandsons.  

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Framed in Fire 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book! I would read it again and again if I had the time.I recommend this book to everyone and anyone who loves a good book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I think I liked this book because I also have a step father. I think this is great book for all kids who have step parents and for kids even if they don't have step parents. Well that is about it and I hope you enjoy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting. I had a little trouble following it in the beginning. It was very hard to understand. I think David Patneaude could have expanded a little more in the beginning and given a little more detail about Peter to tell us who he was and introduce him better to the audience. I think the overall message was displayed though. Framed in Fire was about a boy,Peter, who was very confused. He loved his little brother, Lincoln, very much. One night, Lincoln had a bad dream. He dreamt that the next door neighbor's house had caught on fire. The problem was, it really did. He told Peter it was like he was there. He could actually see the flames licking the ceiling. That is when Peter discovers that his little brother is special. Peter's step-father Buck does not like him. He's obsessed with Lincoln. When Lincoln trips over Peter one night and falls down the stairs, Buck blames Peter. He has Peter talk to a psychiatrist. The first doctor thought Peter was fine, but Buck was not satisfied with that. He has him see Dr. Lubber, who is taking sides with Buck. After he visits Dr. Lubber, Peter is committed to a mental hospital. Lincoln and Peter keep in touch through Lincoln's dreams. While he's there, Peter makes some new friends, and finds out some astonishing things from his past. Over all, David Patneaude wrote an amazing story. It takes you on emotional roller coasters as you follow Peter, and watch him grow in front of your very eyes. I would recommend this book who likes very intriguing stories, filled with laughter and pain, joy and sorrow.