Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tillmon County Fire by Pamela Ehrenberg

Aiden McNalley is convicted of arson for burning down a house. We learn this right from the start; it is the circumstances leading up to and following the fire that make the story. Nine different teenagers give us glimpses into their lives; their stories are like puzzle pieces fitting into a larger whole. They live in a backwater in the Appalachian mountains. They have parents who are dead, abusive, ill, emotionally distant or have otherwise abandoned them. They feel alone and misunderstood.

Each one of the teens has an interesting story. Ben is secretly seeing Rob, who is recently arrived from New York City. Ben's girlfriend, Amelia, has difficulty with being nearly the only Asian in town - she was adopted when she was a baby - and plans to leave town to pursue a relationship with someone she met online. Amelia's best friend, Lacey, has troubles of her own. And so on.

"Does anyone act alone? Maybe some places, where everyone doesn't know each other and a person can sneeze without the whole county knowing about it - maybe in those places, people act alone. but in Tillmon County, I don't think it's possible to act alone even if you want to." The multiple viewpoints show that people don't know each other as well as they think they do, even in this small town - but actions always have consequences.

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