FICTION

Above the Fire

Blackstone Dec. 2023. 250p. ISBN 9798200987757. $25.99. F
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DEBUT Doug, a middle-aged widower, sets out with his seven-year-old son, Tim, to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail through New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Ostensibly a trip to introduce Tim to hiking, it becomes much more when all communication is suddenly lost and there are indications of fires burning in the towns they can see from the mountaintops. News trickles in, hinting of the power grid being knocked out nationwide by a massive cyberattack, and possibly a war. Doug and Tim, along with other hikers, wait things out at a ranger station atop Mt. Washington, expecting that everything will soon return to normal. Days stretch into weeks, however, and winter approaches. Many of the stranded leave Mt. Washington to risk the uncertainty below, but Doug decides that he and Tim will winter over at the Madison Spring hut managed by a warden named David who soon joins his sister in Vermont, leaving father and son alone through the bitter winter.
VERDICT An extraordinary national disaster becomes a journey of bonding and healing for a father and son wounded by loss, in a work that is surprisingly tender given the terrifying adversity its main characters face.
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