Fire Storm in Paradise


by John Crues

In the footsteps of Norman Maclean, Jack Duncan comes of age fighting fires in the forests of Montana.Firestorm in Paradise, a novel by John Crues, is set in the late 1960s in a U.S. Forest Service camp outside the small town of Paradise in the mountains of Montana. Eighteen-year-old Jack Duncan finds himself away from home for the first time and in for a summer full of adventure and surprise: fighting and surviving a fire the likes of the one that killed his uncle; a family of bears that sits on a makeshift bench to watch the firefighters at work; rattlesnakes that accost Jack and his friends when one of the men panics and runs to get out of the brush; the confusion and surprise of Jack’s girlfriend’s cousin and her attraction to him; two Indian brothers–Thor and Blackcloud–one who is Jack’s friend and the other who is out to teach Jack a lesson; and Alex, a local high school girl with whom Jack falls in love for the first time. This is a coming-of-age story that illuminates a summer of hard work, first love, and broken dreams; the conflict between Indian, city, and small-town cultures; and the bonding of men who shed their differences to stand as one against a monster forest fire. There is a sweet romance, the tension of young men testing themselves and each other, and the great outdoors in generous supply. Though Firestorm in Paradise is a novel, Crues writes with an understanding of fire fighting and with a keen eye for the beauty of the land where he spent five summers, three with the forest service as a smoke jumper. Besides being a coming of age story, the book shows the transition which occurred between traditional methods of forest fire control and modern methods using new technology.



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