HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Fire on the Wind
Author: Linda Crew
Publisher: iUniverse, republished 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0385321853 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0385321856 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1440116193 Paperback
ISBN-10: 1440116199 Paperback
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 13-17
Rating: *** 3 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Crew, Linda. Fire on the Wind (Published in1995 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Delacorte Press, New York City, NY 10036; republished in 1997 by Laurel Leaf Books, an imprint of Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York City, NY 10036). It is a hot, dry, dusty August in 1933, and thirteen (almost fourteen) year old Estora Faye (Storie) Rendall lives with her Daddy Tom, Mama Margie, ten year old younger brother Johnny, calico cat Patches, and an orphaned fawn Snowflake which she had rescued, at Blue Star Camp near the little hamlet of Brightrain in northwest Oregon. Her father is a logger. A handsome, young, Irish-born logger in the camp named Flynn Casey seems to have his eye on her. Storie enjoys her life in the woods. Then what became known as the great Tillamook forest fire breaks out at Gales Creek.
At first, the fire is far away. However, as it continues to burn and comes closer to Blue Star, all the men in the camp are sent to fight it. Are they successful? What happens to Blue Star Camp? And will Storie’s father and Flynn survive? This well-researched book is both an account of the fire’s terrifying impact on the Northwest and a depiction of Storie’s coming of age. In an Afterword, author Linda Crew, a fourth generation Oregonian, notes, “With the exception of President Roosevelt, all the named characters in this story are fictional, as is the Blue Star Camp of the Sweetwater Timber Company. The Tillamook Burn of 1933, however, occurred as described.” In addition to a lot of euphemisms (e.g., darn, golly, heck, gosh), some mild profanity (the terms God, Lord, and Christ used as exclamations) and even cursing (the “d” and “h” words) occur, especially in the phrase “hotter’n hollerin’ h—”). I don’t like this kind of language in any book, but to me, it is simply unacceptable in one that is intended for young people, in spite of the author’s attempt to justify it. When the phrase is used in front of children, one parent objects, but the other one says, “They hear worse all the time on the tube.” That is precisely why we don’t have “the tube.”
One female character is often pictured smoking cigarettes and the men “pass tobacco.” There is a lot of sexual tension as Storie’s father worries about her physical growth and development (especially “with her coming up with what Mama called bosoms”) in a camp filled with single male loggers. Nothing immoral actually happens, although another girl in camp named Earlene Bunch “was always up at the woods hideaway with one fellow or another,” and she eventually runs off with some guy. From a positive standpoint, there is a good depiction of family love, and readers will learn a lot about the logging industry as the dialogue is sprinkled with authentic logging language. Also, questions are raised about reconcile human economic needs with the preservation of nature, and the roles of men and women in society and in the family. The book concludes with a flash forward to 1994 where Gramma Storie answers her granddaughter’s questions about the fire.