author: Deborah Froese
publication date: 2001
appeals to: Young Adult
length: 282 pages
publisher: Sumach Press
overall rating: 4.5 Stars
body image & self perception issue: disfigurement from burns
*the back cover*
Life finally seems good to sixteen-year-old Dayle. No longer a self-conscious bookworm, she’s captured the attention of Keith, the perfect dream boyfriend. Her worries are the same as those of most teens her age. She wants to stay friends with her longtime best friend Amy while pursuing the excitement of her relationship with Keith. At the same time, she has to fend off the embarrassing overtures of another friend Stu, and tend to her schoolwork and the usual demands of family.
But suddenly Dayle’s world turns inside out when a moment of carelessness causes tragedy. She is badly burned, and one of her friends is gravely injured. Stage by stage and day by day, Dayle endures, drawing strength from her family and friends and sustained by the memory of a strong and loving grandmother. Out of the Fire follows Dayle’s despair and triumph as she learns painfully that her own resources go much deeper than appearances.
Let me begin by saying that this book was quite different from what I expected. From the description on the back, I thought I’d be reading about how a bookworm met and started dating her dream boy, had troubles with her best friend, and at some point she would become badly burned and have to recover. Instead, the story kind of jumps in with Dayle already dating Keith (the dream guy) and beginning to recognize troubles with her best friend Amy.
Dayle almost seems a bit self-centered at the beginning of the story. She is choosing Keith, who does seem nice enough, over her best friend – which is never a good idea. As I kept reading, I didn’t really like Keith. There wasn’t something obviously wrong with him – he treated Dayle pretty well actually – he just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Especially after you meet Stu, who obviously has a crush on Dayle. Stu seems genuine and like he really knows Dayle even though she isn’t interested in him.
As the book moves on, you know that there has to be some kind of fire or event coming, because of the title and the description on the back of the book, but it happens all of a sudden and so fast that it’s over before you can even grasp what has happened! All of a sudden, Dayle is in the hospital, in intensive care, trying to stay alive. It is hard to say that I liked this part of the story, because reading about such a tragedy isn’t a positive experience, but the attention to detail was amazing. Froese describes Dayle’s thoughts and dreams in the midst of all of her pain and treatment. I really appreciated that she wrote about medical details like the Rule of One Hundred (p. 100 coincidentally). Basically the Rule of One Hundred is a rule of thumb type prediction for survival. You “take the percentage of the patient’s body with second and third degree burns and add that number to their age. If the total is less than one hundred, their potential for survival is good. If the total is one hundred or more, the patient is less likely to recover.” (p. 100). Adding in things that nurses and doctors would talk about really created a more effective setting for the story.
After the burn, Dayle still has a lot of healing to do, both physically and emotionally. A lot of her emotional healing is inspired by Gram. Even though she is dead, Gram has an incredible presence in this story. She is actively present in memories and dream sequences, which show how important Gram is and was to Dayle.
By the end of the story, I felt like so much had happened, that I couldn’t believe the book was only 282 pages long. There is an immense amount of emotion, change, and plot in this novel that definitely make it worth reading.
*short and snappy*
writing: detailed – it is obvious that Froese did a lot of research while she wrote the book, but she put it into the story in a way that makes sense
plot: there are fast points and slow points, but they combine to make a breathtaking story
characters: deep – as Dayle begins to heal, you really seem the depth that was created in the characters
judging by the cover: the cover really captures the heart of the plot
miscellaneous: While I was researching to find information for this post, I found a picture of the “Rule of 9s” on the Saint Barnabas Burn Center’s website. It shows what parts of your body make up what percent and is used to determine the total percentage of the body that has been burned. There is also information about burn degrees and treatment at their website.
I also found several articles talking about the fact that research and work in this field has actually increased survival rates, so the Rule of 100 isn’t as “accurate” as before.