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Tillmon County Fire Paperback – May 21, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ehrenberg’s latest is a challenging pastiche of stories, each told from a different teenager’s point of view, that chronicle the lead-up to and fallout from an arson incident in a small Appalachian community. With the very first story, readers will think they have it figured out: Aiden, a religious zealot in training, seems to bear all the marks of a potential sociopath. But everything in Tillmon County—and by extension, the world, Ehrenberg seems to suggest—is more complicated. The clues come out as characters cross paths, and it soon becomes clear that the arson has something to do with Rob, a new kid in town who happens to be gay; Albert, a “slow” kid who devotedly follows his twin brother; and Lacey, a pregnant store clerk who sells some lighter fluid. Using distinctive voices (and fonts) for each troubled teen, Ehrenberg’s gambit never seems like a gimmick—each of her characters lives and breathes, and though their own tangents may test the patience of some readers, it is precisely these qualities that make their sum total so gripping. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus

Review

"Cleverly plotted and well-crafted story of abuse and vengeance . . . ."  The vividly drawn setting, almost a character in itself, embraces an important message all readers need to hear. --School Library Journal (April 2009)

"an introspective look at truth and consequences in small-town America" --Kirkus Review (March 2009)

"a powerful novel that is part mystery, part coming-of-age tale and wholly compelling" --Washington Parent (June 2009)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (May 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802853455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802853455
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,008,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pamela Ehrenberg grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and now lives in Washington, D.C., with her two young children. She loves to hear from readers and to visit schools and libraries everywhere via Skype technology. For more information, visit her website at www.pamelaehrenberg.com.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. R. Mass on July 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With Tillmon County Fire, author Pamela Ehrenberg has created an "Our Town" for teens. Like Ethan Suspended, Ehrenberg's debut novel, Tillmon deals with issues universal to young adults everywhere. And she accomplishes this difficult task visually,through font and typeface and with her usual wit and insight.

Each chapter of the book is narrated by a different teen who is in the process of trying to figure out the world and his or her place in it. Like Roshomon,their intersecting stories help to uncover who was responsible for a devastating fire which culminates in a trial. Is it Rob, the new kid in town who happens to be gay? Or is it Albert,the slow twin, or the pregnant cashier in the hardware store? Or is it Amelia, the only Chinese American in Tillmon County, or is it Cait, a bright girl determined to go to college and flee Tillmon for good?

Ehrenberg has created real flesh and blood characters devoid of melodrama. She channels each teen and it is for this reason that Tillmon County Fire is an impressive, gripping and relentless page turner.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
It seems like fiction written specifically for teens (a relatively recent innovation in the history of literature) can all too easily be sorted into three categories: trashy junk reading (e.g. Gossip Girl and its many imitators), contemporary issue-based educational reading (books whose plots revolve around "after-school special" issues such as teen pregnancy, drugs, violence, being gay, poverty, race, etc.), and more traditional escapist fare (books about vampire clans, the future, historicals, etc.). I have to admit that those few teen-targeted books I've enjoyed in recent years tend to fall into that third camp, probably because these are the ones where the authors appear to be more committed to telling an engaging story than writing to some perceived market need.

Fortunately, while this book flirts with issues, like Ehrenberg's solid debut (Ethan, Suspended), it never surrenders to them, and thus remains an engaging read whose story never veers into the melodramatic, and whose characters feel like real teenagers. This may be due to author's Americorps experience, which exposed her to some of the cultural and economic struggles of small communities such as the fictional county this story is set in. Each chapter of the book is narrated by a different kid, all of whom are engaged in that essential American teenage act of trying to figure out who they are.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Friedman on October 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's been a while since I tore through a book this quickly, but the varying viewpoints and constant twists kept me wanting to find out what happened next. I actually felt like I was listening to teenagers talk (more Judy Blume than The Breakfast Club) and sometimes forgot that I was reading a book by an adult. Ehrenberg conveyed the kids' emotions without beating us over the head with her beliefs.

It was amazing to see both how much and how little goes on in small-town America and puts a number of social conflicts in perspective. I'd definitely recommend the book.

Mike
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A Kid's Review on July 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
With Tillmon County Fire, author Pamela Ehrenberg has created an "Our Town" for teens. Like Ethan Suspended, Ehrenberg's debut novel, Tillmon deals with issues universal to young adults everywhere. And she accomplishes this difficult task visually,through font and typeface and with her usual wit and insight.

Each chapter of the book is narrated by a different teen who is in the process of trying to figure out the world and his or her place in it. Like Roshomon,their intersecting stories help to uncover who was responsible for a devastating fire which culminates in a trial. Is it Rob, the new kid in town who happens to be gay? Or is it Albert,the slow twin, or the pregnant cashier in the hardware store? Or is it Amelia, the only Chinese American in Tillmon County, or is it Cait, a bright girl determined to go to college and flee Tillmon for good?

Ehrenberg has created real flesh and blood characters devoid of melodrama. She channels each teen and it is for this reason that Tillmon County Fire is an impressive, gripping and relentless page turner.
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Format: Paperback
Tillmon County Fire kept me in suspense from the moment I opened the cover because of the questions inspired by the title: Where is Tillmon County? What structures burned in the fire? How did the fire start?

The author does an excellent job of slowly spiraling the reader toward the answers by introducing dynamic characters who speak in their own unique voices (and each voice is represented with a font that matches his/her personality!). The characters' individual stories intertwine as the plot unfolds. In addition to a solid storyline, Tillmon County Fire helps its teenage audience relate to and understand real issues facing teens today. I believe young readers will find characters with which they identify and who may help teens deal with their personal struggles as they fight toward adulthood.
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