5 stars – so realistic I thought it was a biography
One Foot in the Black is about…
A teenage boy who leaves home to escape an abusive father and trains to be a Californian wildland fighter.
I received a review copy of this book a couple of months back and thought I’d better get stuck in and read it. The book tells the story of a young man called Greg who moves to California from Michigan to be a wildland firefighter.
The book opens with the following line:
“A year ago, I saw a man go up in flames.”
The prologue goes onto explain that Greg and his crew are trapped on the side of the mountain, and that while most of the crew escaped the fire, one member perished.
From that point Kamm takes the reader on two journeys, one covers the months up to that fateful fire as Greg trains to be a firefighter. The other goes back to Greg’s childhood and covers his relationship with his abusive father.
I was hooked from that very first line and thoroughly enjoyed this book. In a move away from most novels the whole story is pretty much told using dialogue between the characters rather than any descriptive narrative. This works perfectly and I felt like I was right alongside Greg, through the training, the beatings and the fires.
I was quite surprised when I finished the book to find this was a work of fiction; I was so sure it was a biography. Every year we hear on the news about the wildfires burning in California; next time I will definitely spare a moment to think about the brave men who risk their lives to save the locals, while understanding a bit more about how they go about it.
If you’re looking for a gripping read that’s a little different from the norm I can highly recommend One Foot in the Black by Kurt L. Kamm.
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