Burn by Heath Gibson
by Heath Gibson
Publication date: August 8, 2012
Genre: YA fiction
Purchase: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
All it takes is one spark
William Tucker loves being a volunteer firefighter (maybe it’s no coincidence that a pastor’s son would enjoy saving people). And after he rescues his crush, Mandy Pearman, she undergoes a profound transformation for the better. In fact, it seems like a lot of good comes from the embers of tragedy in his small Alabama town. William may not be able to meet his father’s expectations, force his mother to ditch the gin, or protect his gay brother, but for those who need a second chance at life, William isn’t afraid to light the match–and become the hero the town needs.
Burn offers us a unique look into a small town and a dysfunctional preacher’s family. It held my attention from page one and touched on some sensitive social subjects. Gibson takes us into the heart of a small Alabama town and the mind of one young man who resides there.
The tale begins when we meet William “Wee-Wee” Tucker. He is a high school student and trained volunteer firefighter. As the son of the local Baptist preacher he appears to be an outstanding pillar of the community. As the author takes us into Wee-Wee’s mind and introduces us to his family and friends, we quickly learn there are dark secrets here. This character driven novel, full of thought provoking messages sent me on an emotional ride as I tried to determine my feelings for this captivating tale.
Wee-Wee is a bright, dependable young man. Town folk would say he is polite and always does the right thing. He works at the local market, saved for his own car, respects his parents, attends church and protects his brother. After going to his first fire, he feels a rush. He has a crush on Mandy Pearman, but she sees him as her best bud. He wants to fix things around him, about him, and others and begins to look for ways to make things right. The Tucker family is complex. They are all covering up a secret about Tucker’s Mom. Tucker’s brother, Steven, is adorable and incredibly brave at times. He too has a secret and decides to be open about it. The town and his father might not be able to handle it. Tucker’s Dad is always concerned about the family’s image even at the cost to his family. I got chills when he said, “Remember who you are, son.” My favorite character was Samantha; she is a new student and shakes things up. She is very comfortable about who she is, and what she stands for. Other characters aid in rounding out the events, foreshadowing and believability.
Gibson’s writing style is enjoyable and the plot flowed as he took us into Wee-Wee’s mind. His approach to the subject matter was interesting and thought provoking. Young readers who long to be heroes would benefit from reading this. While I didn’t completely connect with Wee-Wee, Heath did an excellent job of portraying his inner struggles, explaining his thought process and making his actions believable. The ending was chilling.
Burn offers an interesting tale and was worth the read. This would be an excellent book for a young reader’s book club as it offers up some fantastic topics to discuss. I have added Heath Gibson to my author’s to watch list and would definitely read more of his work.
I want to thank Flux and netGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
I gave this novel 3 coffee cups out of 5.
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