After the Fire

Listen to Becky Citra
reading Chapter 1 of
After the Fire


Orca Book Publishers

Pub Date: 
April 2010

$ 9.95

My Books

After the Fire

Ages 9 - 13

186 pages, 21 chapters


  Interview with Becky in the 100 Mile Free Press
  100 Mile Free Press



The Story

At first, relief flooded her. Nobody in sight - just the bare grey rock gleaming in the hot sun. Then she spotted the blue canoe floating in the reeds. Before Melissa could turn around, someone waded out of the shade cast by the low boughs of a tree overhanging the water. It was a girl in a red bathing suit, standing waist deep. She had long blond hair that hung down her back and a thin pointed face. She didn't look at all surprised to see Melissa. In fact, Melissa thought afterward, it was as if she had expected her. When she spoke, her voice was firm and confident. "Do you come in peace or war?" she said. "What?" said Melissa. Her cheeks turned hot with confusion. The girl's light hazel eyes stared at Melissa steadily. "Are you friend or foe?"

Melissa is waiting for the "new life" that her mother Sharlene has promised her since a fire devastated their family. But nothing ever seems to change. Melissa has difficulty making friends at school, they never have enough money and her little brother Cody is demanding. When Sharlene announces that they will be spending the month of August at a remote cabin on a wilderness lake, Melissa is horrified. Desperate to escape her mother and little brother, Melissa canoes to an island in the middle of the lake where she meets Alice,  a strange girl with stories of her "perfect family". Melissa is envious at first and then frightened as Alice draws her deeper into a dangerous fantasy world where nothing is at it seems.

What people are saying about After the Fire
After the Fire is a smart and thoughtful book about a girl who is trying to understand about family and trust and forgiveness. Melissa, her mother Sharlene and Alice are strong and interesting characters whose fears, mistakes and frustrations are, in the end, overcome by their determination and their sense of hope. A lovely book for girls from grade four up.

FernFolio Editor Sept 2011
Prolific B.C. author Becky Citra has produced yet another winning novel for young readers that is engaging, interesting and full of true to life situations. . .  What makes After the Fire a special book is that Citra depicts a family that deviates from the upper middle-class norm without making its lower class socio-economic status a big deal. . . Citra imparts the details of Melissa's life in a straightforward manner, allowing the reader to absorb her circumstances without a sense of bombardment. It's a delicate balance, the nuances of which will likely be unnoticed by the target audience, but which nonetheless contribute to the overall quality of the book.  

2010Quill and Quire July/August 2010
A delicious summer read . . . Citra delivers a poignant well-paced story about family and friendship and how they are molded by traumatic events. Pre-teen and teen girls will recognize and relate to  the power struggles and tensions that Melissa experiences both with her mother and with Alice. Citra manages to weave heavy topics into the story naturally, including alcoholism, poverty, cancer, suicide, death and depression. She balances the ever constant threat of danger, symbolized by the spreading forest fires in the area, with the peaceful setting of a luscious Canadian lake in mid-summer. . .   The book wraps with a satisfying and hopeful ending that affirms the human capability to persist and succeed through the hardships and difficulties that life may present - an ideal recommendation for girls looking to read through the long  summer nights.

CM Volume XVI Number 34 May, 2010
From the opening pages of After the Fire readers are immediately absorbed into eleven-year-old Melissa's world . . . in this unique and delicately written story of rebuilding, the parent-child relationship is explored in its complexity and the reader, like Melissa, is left feeling that families can heal and trust can be regained.

Resource Links
  After the Fire is a thoughtful book about the healing power of the Canadian woods.  

Times Colonist July 4, 2010
  Citra's story moves along quickly and engages the reader at every step.. . The reader can feel the tension in the family dynamics . . . Citra keeps the reader guessing throughout the book, building suspense about Melissa's past, Alice's present and the girls' future. The story is dark while remaining grounded in reality. The scenes build as characters reveal bits and pieces of the puzzle, making the conclusion of the story wholly satisfying and surprising... After the Fire is a very satisfying read with an engaging plot and fully realized characters. Girls aged nine and up will relate to the characters and their frustrations, and the language level is easy to navigate. THIS NOVEL IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  

Keen Readers.org
What Red Cedar Award readers are saying about
After the Fire
  STUPENDOUS - an exciting book with adventure filled pages  
  EXCELLENT -  The characters are believable, well described and surprising. I rate it 10 out of 10.  
  AMAZING - I would rate it 110 out of 100. The author wrote it with a lot of feeling.  
  EXCITING - After the Fire is a great book . . . I would give it 5 out of 5  
  AMAZING - This book is tons of fun, interesting and amazing. You will just love it.  
AWESOME - I couldn't put it down! It's mysterious, exciting and interesting
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