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25 February 2013

Daniel Berenson: Firebug

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It is not easy to write a book about the dangers of fire, especially to young people in their formative years. Daniel Berenson has told this difficult story well via the relationship between an extreme burn victim and a potential firebug.

Bobby lacks self-confidence at school and support at home. He thinks "I hate this school...I wish someone would march right in and burn it down." With this idea he gets an adrenaline kick, and a feeling of excitement and power. On the other hand Curtis, who had no apparent fear, has already found out the dangers of fire - the hard way.

Because of the subject matter, at times this is not an easy story to read but Berenson has done his best to make it both an educational and a emotionally rewarding one. He has used his knowledge from his close association with the Burns Unit of his local hospital to bring the fate of burns victims and the attitude of youth to fires to our attention (and some of the proceeds of the book will go to that unit). One chilling fact is that over half of burned kids had their parents do it to them.

For once I agree with the book description - it is "a story of pain, friendship, courage, and hope". It is very hard to rate a book on a basic subject that is hardly enjoyable but it is well written and thought provoking. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read a relatively short, emotional and educational book on a challenging subject. It really should be read by young adults but I wonder if people in the target audience would be motivated to do so.

I was gifted a copy of this book by the author and asked for an independent review.


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