Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #YA The Staircase Of Fire by @benswoodard #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Robbie, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading The Staircase Of Fire by Ben Woodard


The Staircase of Fire is an extraordinary book for children aged 12 upwards. The story is set in Shakertown, Kentucky in the 1920s and features a young orphan boy, Tom, who is being raised by his Uncle Davis on his farm. Tom is a tormented soul having been instrumental in the accidental death of his baby sister. He is plagued by guilt and bad dreams and has a lot of anger towards anybody who mentions his sister’s unfortunate death. In the manner typical of teenagers, some boys use this as a way of inciting Tom’s ire and he ends up in all sorts of altercations and feels very victimized. His own troubled state of mind makes it impossible for him to develop wholesome friendships and his budding relationship with the beautiful Helen is thwarted by his own insecurities and doubts.

Tom has developed a close friendship with a Negro woman, Rose, and her son, James. Despite her difficult circumstances, Rose has managed to gain knowledge and become fairly learned through reading books. James is also ambitious to better his position in life. Rose is determined to stand up for her right to vote in terms of the recently passed Nineteenth Amendment, but no stirrings of change in this direction have yet reached the rural farming community where they live. Rose stirs up a lot of trouble for her son and herself when she tries to register to vote. Her actions unleash the anger of the Ku Klux Klan who plan to drive Rose and James out of town. Tom unexpectedly becomes caught up in the Klan’s attempt at retribution.

The story of Rose and James and Tom’s involvement in their lives is a large part of the story but the underlying plot is Tom’s journey towards overcoming his personal demons and moving towards acceptance of his past and an ability to embrace the future. His interactions with people who really care about others and try to help them allows him to do the same and find forgiveness of his own actions and past and to find his own peace and love. As he seeks to remediate his personal hurts, Tom also walks the path of justice with Rose.

I enjoyed the way the author brought small pieces of poetic thought into the story.

I rated this book five out of five stars.

Book description

A quiet town in Kentucky explodes from a racial incident and fourteen-year-old Tom Wallace is in the thick of it. Dealing with his past was bad enough, and now he’s witness to a horrific event leaving him devastated and afraid. Along with his cousin, Will, he searches for lost gold he believes can help him escape his town and its memories. But leaving has consequences, too. He will lose his friends and his new love. Tom finally realizes that he cannot escape himself and has to deal with his past. But to do so requires him to take a stand that could change his life … or end it.

About the author

A spellbinding storyteller of high adventure, Ben has walked the Great Wall of China, hiked in Tibet, and climbed to 18,000 feet on Mt. Everest. And recently learned to surf in Hawaii.
Ben is active in SCBWI and a member of a local children’s writing critique group. He is a former Marketing Manager for a major corporation and ran his own marketing consulting business. He started writing children’s stories in 2008 and has written picture books, middle grade and young adult. Stories of adventure and wonder. Stories that inspire and educate, and, most of all, entertain.
Ben lives in Kentucky with his wife Lynda.

Ben Woodard

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