As wildfires threaten his home, his stepfather’s livelihood, and the raptors he has come to love, Luther struggles to resolve the conflicts in his community and the ones inside himself.
The town of Heartwood, Montana is burning out of control. Stoked by nearby wildfires, long-standing disputes over forestry policies have been reignited, pitting out-of-work local residents against environmentalists and state wildlife managers. At the center of the heated dispute is high school sophomore Luther Wright.
Luther used to be just like all his friends, playing football and partying every chance he got. But now he spends his time helping the local veterinarian Kay rehabilitate injured raptors. Against the backdrop of Montana’s worst wildfire season in years, Luther begins questioning many of the community’s basic precepts, and in doing so faces alienation. But when someone starts shooting Kay’s birds and suspicious fires start breaking out, Luther is drawn into a situation far more dangerous than he could have ever imagined.
Award-winning author Sneed B. Collard III offers readers an affecting, realistic portrait of a teenage boy who learns to navigate a difficult course between standing up for what he believes and maintaining loyalty to his family and friends. Collard also provides a balanced look at the difficulties of balancing competing environmental and economic interests.
“There is a great deal of information woven into this interesting, well-paced story. Forest fires (good and bad), politics and corporate greed all play into the tale, and Luther is a realistically confused teen. Young teens interested in nature, animals and ecology will probably find much to enjoy.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Luther is a sympathetic, believable character. Information about logging, forest fires, and birds of prey is skillfully integrated. Environmentally minded teens will appreciate this look at current issues within a coming-of-age story.” ―School Library Journal
“This solid story set in Montana should appeal to readers interested in ecological themes such as managing fires in forests and protecting raptors…Collard is a biologist who knows the forestry management arguments, and through his characters the issues are thoroughly examined. Details of training falcons will fascinate many readers.” ―Kliatt
“The skillfully described setting of a small timber town in Montana threatened by forest fires pulls readers in. Information about birds of prey and forest management policies is interwoven into the plot seamlessly.” ―Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
Green Earth Book Award (Young Adult Fiction) ―Newton Marasco Foundation, 2007
Best Children’s Books of the Year ―Bank Street College of Education, 2007
Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award (Honor Winner, Young Adult category) ― American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2006
AR Level: 4.7
F&P: Y, Gr 6, Genre RF
Themes: Community, Conservation, Family, Forest Fires, Raptors
BISAC 1: YAF002000 YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Animals / General’
BISAC 2: YAF043010 YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Nature & the Natural World / Environment
BISAC 3: YAF058260 YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Values & Virtues