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Riley's Fire
     

Riley's Fire

2.0 1
by Lee Merrill Byrd
 

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Riley Martin is a boy whose great curiosity takes him to a place he never imagined and a future that might seem impossible. But impossible is a word that doesn't exist for Riley.

A second grader from El Paso, Texas, he lies in a high hospital bed in the original Shriners Burns Institute in Galveston. He has third-degree burns over 63 percent of his small body

Overview


Riley Martin is a boy whose great curiosity takes him to a place he never imagined and a future that might seem impossible. But impossible is a word that doesn't exist for Riley.

A second grader from El Paso, Texas, he lies in a high hospital bed in the original Shriners Burns Institute in Galveston. He has third-degree burns over 63 percent of his small body and face, the result of his experiment with gasoline from the lawn mower and a match.
But inside that burned body glows a steady spirit.

In this debut novel, set in such an unlikely place, a boy and his parents face the future—his and theirs. Riley's mother has been with him every day since a private plane brought them to Galveston immediately after the accident. His father comes for weekends when he can. The isolated hospital universe, the other children being treated there, Riley's mother's furious grief at her son's disfigurement, and his father's determined support are fictional creations informed by extraordinary knowledge, empathy, and skill.
But it is Riley himself who charms and twists the reader's heart—Riley, a boy so compelling in his innate boyness and buoyancy that his presence transforms the setting, the circumstances, the pain, the loss, even his own expectations.

He is one of those rare beings who embody the human spirit in the act of transcending reality. His story is, above all else, a reward.

Editorial Reviews

People Magazine
"[A] powerful first novel . . . Byrd forges a riveting story that, in the end, is astonishingly uplifting."
People (four stars)
Entertainment Weekly
"[Riley's] sturdy spirit suffuses this remarkable novel. Grade: A."

Entertainment Weekly

Library Journal
Riley Martin narrates this tale from Galveston's Shriners Burns Institute, where he is being treated for third-degree burns over 63 percent of his body. His mother talks about the "accident," but Riley knows it to have been his destiny, just as Sleeping Beauty was meant to have pricked her finger and fallen into a deep sleep. Byrd (My Sister Disappears: Stories and a Novella) does a beautiful job of inhabiting the mind of a seven-year-old boy who overhears adult conversations and reaches his own conclusions based on a simpler understanding. Readers will see the horror of the medical treatment Riley must undergo and his puzzlement at the concerns of his mother, so different from his own. They will also see boys from different socioeconomic groups forming new kinships based on a split-second event that irrevocably altered each of their lives, and they will see-through Riley's eyes-the parents of these boys coming to terms with these events while passing judgment on one another for letting this tragedy befall their children. A beautiful, well-told story full of humor and pathos; recommended for public libraries.-Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical & Community Coll. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565124974
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
05/12/2006
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 7.26(h) x 1.06(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Riley's Fire is a beautifully observed narrative, looking out from the uncorrupted heart of a young boy whose flesh has been terribly burned. Byrd knows this territory so well that she has created an unforgettable world and brought about a healing that surpasses any cure. Riley's Fire is a triumph for both writer and character."
—Abraham Verghese, author of My Own Country and The Tennis Partner

"A powerful excursion into the heartbreaking world of disfigured children. It is also a reminder of the always surprising resources of the human spirit. This is one of those rarities in contemporary literature —a book that needed to be written."
—Rick DeMarinis, author of Apocalypse Then and The year of the Zinc Penny

Rick DeMarinis
"A powerful excursion into the heartbreaking world of disfigured children. It is also a reminder of the always surprising resources of the human spirit. This is one of those rarities in contemporary literature —a book that needed to be written."
—Rick DeMarinis, author of Apocalypse Then and The year of the Zinc Penny

Meet the Author


LEE MERRILL BYRD is the author of My Sister Disappears: Stories and a Novella. She lives in El Paso, Texas, where she and her husband run Cinco Puntos Press, a regional publishing company. They have a daughter and two sons.

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Riley's Fire 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book starts off a little slowly, but quickly picks up momentum. However, just when one begins to become really interested, and the characters really become well rounded, the story comes to a screeching halt. The ending is premature, rushed, and trite.