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Paradise on Fire

Written by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Paradise on Fire Review

Adventure Stories Ecological and Environmental Interest - Fiction Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Gritty Reads Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

Grief, survival, environmentalism, and a bold, bright heroine of colour who soars like an eagle

At once a page-turning adventure set in the Californian wilderness, and an inspiring call to action for young environmentalists, Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Paradise on Fire teems with real-life issues (grief, racism, climate change and social inequalities) and emotional wisdom. Following the death of her parents in a fire, the novel’s endearing heroine, Addy, is being raised in the Bronx by her beloved Nigerian grandmother. From the outset, Addy’s grief is tangibly evoked - “Being an orphan is like being a crusted-over scab. Leave me alone. Don’t touch.” Similarly, though we never meet her directly, Addy’s grandmother feels ever-present, like a firm and loving hug that inspires confidence. “To know yourself, you need to journey, Adaugo. Remember what’s forgotten” - such advice echoes through the novel, spurring Addy to handle the most perilous of circumstances. 


This summer, Addy’s grandma has enrolled her on a wilderness program, which she joins with five other kids of colour for a few weeks of camping, climbing and hiking in the Californian wilderness. Usually insular, Addy flourishes at camp - her sharp mind, spatial awareness and keen cartographer’s eye come into their own here. Then, when fire strikes the forest, it falls to Addy to not only face her greatest fear, but to save her fellow campers from certain death.


Gripping to the end, and underpinned by potent messages about climate change and the joys of connecting with nature, Paradise on Fire explores literal and metaphoric survival with heartfelt gusto and a mythological vibe courtesy of Addy’s name (which means “of the air. Far-seeing. Watchful”) and connection to eagles.

Joanne Owen

Paradise on Fire Synopsis

From award-winning and bestselling author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful coming-of-age survival tale set during a devastating wild fire.

Haunted by a tragic fire that killed her parents and best friend, Addy has grown up in the Bronx with her grandmother, who enrolls her in a summer wilderness program. There, she joins five other city kids of colour to spend a summer out West. Deep in the forest, the kids learn new skills: camping, hiking, rock climbing, and more. They overcome their suspicion of their white guides and mentors. Most importantly, they learn to depend upon each other for companionship and survival. Then comes the great Camp Fire of 2018 and Addy comes face-to-face with her destiny. Remembering her origins and grandmother's teachings, will Addy be able to use her street smarts, wilderness skills, and spiritual intuition to survive?

From NYT bestselling author Jewell Parker Rhodes, another poignant and gripping story about how the complexities of race and racism in today's world.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781510109858
Publication date: 07/09/2021
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781510109858
Publication date: 7th September 2021
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 256 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Ecological and Environmental, Gritty Reads, Personal Social Health Economic , Personal Social Health Economic

About Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes grew up in Pennsylvania. She is an author of adult and children's books, a Coretta Scott King Honour award-winner, and a professor of creative writing at Arizona State University. She currently lives in San Jose.

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