Bullied in school, the brother of a rebellious sister, without real friends, and stifled by an overbearing father - these incendiary ingredients have ignited 15-year-old Zeke Titcomb, a full-fledged pyromaniac. He has terrorized the small town of Chaldea, Maine by torching his high school to the ground. And the town will never be the same. But the high school is only the beginning. Zeke's unsuccessful attempts to set the adjacent Junior High School on fire and the neighboring Walloomsac High School strain the efforts of the authorities, desperate to find the culprit, but not before Zeke has further traumatized the townspeople with a burning spree. Zeke, now incarcerated in the Portland Youth Center, isolated and sulky, withdraws. Dr. Elizabeth Proctor, his appointed psychologist, convinces him to begin writing in a journal. Something strange happens - Zeke begins to open up. In it, he gradually reveals the events that led up to the fires, his feelings about life in Chaldea, and the family anxieties that burden him. Zeke immerses himself in his journal. Only when his parents allow two staff members from his old high school, a former English teacher and the school librarian, to help him work on his writing, does Zeke begin to catch a glimpse of what he has done and who he is.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dave Cappella has created a fully convincing primary character in Zeke, the boy that sets fires in a small Maine town as he acts out his rage and other emotions, much of it attributable to an abusive family life. It's clear Cappella is himself a Mainer, because he so accurately captures the push and pull of these complex places in Northern New England. But he saves his most convincing material for the boy; the various reflections on flames, burning, fire and power alone make the book worth the cover price.
Some educators and parents might take issue with the fact that Zeke is a teen who sets fires, a legitimate concern to raise when sharing this book with anyone younger than 21, but I'd argue that we have the Hunger Games (teens slaughtering each other) and most YA readers know how to sort through the violence and see through to the deeper currents in the story. The book does not celebrate what Zeke does, but it does do a fine job of exploring the emotional terrain behind...
Kindling by David Cappella If a story doesn’t make you feel and think about things, you should probably stop reading it. This is not the case for Kindling. The story of Zeke Titcomb set in Chaldea, Maine. A detailed thumbnail of small town USA with a New England twist. A teenager. Awkward. Bullied in school and home. The all too familiar type of a father who doesn’t know and therefore insists he does know all things, especially how to think and act. The all--too-- familiar type of mother who is the peacemaker but no saint, compliant to the role of silent accomplice. Two kids: Zeke and Michelle. This is not a coming of age story though the main character, Zeke, is a teenager as is his sister Michelle. This is a story of fire. Of one continual burning fire inside Zeke (and also Michelle) and several fires in Chaldea, the “peace that passes understanding” for Zeke. The emotional fires burn from the first to the last page. There are...
Kindling: I just enjoyed reading Dave Cappella’s tale of a troubled teen in upstate Maine. Cappella tells the story of the small town with its wonderful cast of characters and the teenager’s difficult family alongside the unfolding narrative from the boy’s point of view. Sympathetically and poetically written, the reader comes to almost understand the inevitability and logic of the teen’s final pyrotechnics. Throughout the book, Mr. Cappella’s romantic ‘word dances’ with fire create for the reader a teetering on the line of insanity. We are taken on a journey with the teenage Zeke from inability to express and own his feelings to an understanding of himself within the practical context of his world. We are left hoping he continues his evolution to have a good life.
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