Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Big Burn” as Want to Read:
The Big Burn
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Big Burn

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  265 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Based on the events surrounding one of the biggest fires of the twentieth century, The Big Burn is a portrait of a time and a place and an event that altered the face of Montana and Idaho, changed the way we fight wildfires, and dramatically transformed the people on the front lines forever.

Readers of this novel might also want to read the more documentary account in Timot
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published August 1st 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Big Burn, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Analee Hall Unfortunately, yes. It was dully written and hard to understand. It was kind of all over the place. It was also weird that Celia (Lizbeth's aunt) like…moreUnfortunately, yes. It was dully written and hard to understand. It was kind of all over the place. It was also weird that Celia (Lizbeth's aunt) liked Samuel (Jarrett's older brother), and Lizbeth liked Jarrett. It was just not a good book.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  265 ratings  ·  40 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Big Burn
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an easy read and a very interesting one if you are at all curious about what forest fires are really like--how they get started, what kind of conditions forest fighters face, … This story details the events during a major forest fire in Idaho in 1910 where at least 90 people died and 2.5 million acres of forest land burned. Modern firefighting has changed but many of the conditions they face are still present, and the large number of acres destroyed by fire each year demonstrate that the ...more
Tommy Jacobs
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A quick little historical fiction book.
Jack P
Apr 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Jack by: my teacher
this book was extremly boring and had no exciting parts. it was dull and i wanted to stop reading it the whole time. the "climax" was people runniong through a forest, laying in a creek and then digging holes. seth was barely in the book even though he was supposed to be a main character. all lizbeth did was argue with her aunt.
K Marie
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Worth reading, but a bit stilted and hard to follow at times, jumping between at least 4 points of view. The digital copy was not edited, probably at all. For example; periods in the middle of sentences, spaces in the middle of words. If you can get past all that the story follows 4 different points of view experiencing the hugh forest fires of 1910 in northern Idaho & western Montana. A young man trying to prove himself, his brother a Forest Ranger, an aunt & her niece homesteading and soldiers ...more
Sara Schoen
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I worked for a burn crew for a while and I really enjoyed the book. Yes, it has a slow start, but you can't just jump into the fire. We need background. I thought this explained a lot of stuff well. I liked the relationship between the brothers and even the seemingly improved relationship of the father and Jarrett. It was a slow build, but an enjoyable read.
May 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
I read this in my 7th grade humanities class and it was honestly the most boring book I’ve ever read, even now 4 years later. The characters were boring, the story line was entirely predictable, and there was nothing interesting. I do not recommend this book. If you want to learn about the giant wildfire in Idaho go find a different book that is more gripping.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy reading as it is juvenile literature but the story is interwoven with historical details and facts which makes it very interesting. With the difficulty forest fire fighters face today with access to air support, it is easy to imagine the struggles the rangers and fire crews had in 1910.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I knew nothing about the big burn of 1910 that burned 2 1/2 million acres of public land across Montana and Idaho. Great read.
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Booklist says: "Gr. 6-9. According to the afterword, the fire that engulfed the Northwest in 1910 is still known as the Big Burn. This historical novel, set in northern Idaho, introduces several characters whose lives intersect at various points as the mountains burn. Seth Brown is an African American private in the Twenty-fifth Infantry, sent in from Washington State to help fight fires. Sixteen-year-old Jarrett Logan, just laid off from working on the railroad, leaves home to join the Forest S ...more
Mar 19, 2012 rated it liked it
For a book that we had to read in class this is prettey good. When we were in class I was often confused though because people around me would be talking about how exciting and awesome this book is at page 216 and I would think to myself, "I'm on page 278 and nothing I would classify as exciting has happended. Did I skip some pages?" So I read part 3 twice, but I hadn't skipped anything, it's just that this book is rather uneventful. I mean the pinnacle of excitment was either when Jarrett and h ...more
Libby Ames
It is the summer of 1910 and wildfires are raging through northern Idaho and Montana. Sixteen-year-old Jarrett Logan signs on to fight the fires and is forced to quickly grow up in ways he never imagined. Private Seth Brown learns the army is much more frightening work and less glory when his division is assigned to fight the fires. Lizbeth Whitcomb realizes the true beauty of the wilderness as she sees it burning before her eyes. Through these perspectives, Ingold shows the bravery and the horr ...more
Aline Dufflocq
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
"The Big Burn" was a mediocre read in my opinion. I mean it was okay, I just felt that through 3/4 of the book I was thinking: "Now is it going to become exciting?" And in my opinion a book should get exciting either the whole way through or around 20 pages in, not on like page 167. I also felt that the characters where kinda bland and I got frustrated with them a lot. Lizabeth was okay though I like her ferocity and determination, Seth drove me crazy because of his lack of independence througho ...more
Ryan R
Jan 09, 2012 added it
The Big Burn by Jeanette Ingold is a must-read! This book is about three main characters Jarret, a young man involved in the fire crew. A black man who joined the army who’s name is Seth. And another character who loves the forest and her home, her name is Lizbeth. These teens find themselves each having to deal with a fire in their own way and also find that there is more to fighting fires than ditch digging and a little bit of water. I suggest reading this book because though out the book the ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Jeanette Ingold did her homework. This YA fiction The Big Burn is also about the huge forest fire in Idaho/Montana in 1910. The Big Burn NF book by Timothy Egan gave many more details not only about the fire but also about the politics and in general I found it to be more interesting. However Ingold spilled an engaging story and got her facts right. The nice thing about reading fiction is the characters you like don't have to die unless the author decides it's their time. A lot of the gross desc ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Driving over Lolo Pass in August 2012, I stopped at the Visitor Center at the top of the pass. There were forest fires around. While I was there, a bus dropped off firefighters, a helicopter swooped in, dropped off tired firefighters, picked up the fresh fire fighters, and headed back toward the smoke. In the VC bookshop, I discovered The Big Burn by Timothy Egan, about an historic fire in the region that occurred just after Theodore Roosevelt's presidency - an excellent book about the history o ...more
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
[The Big Burn] by [Jeanette Ingold] is an excellently written historical fiction that deals with an interesting topic. The plot is focused around three young people: Elizabeth, a homesteader with her sister, Jarret, a fire fighter, and Seth, and African American soldier. The even that brings them all together is the forest fires of 1910 in Idaho and Montana know as the Big Burn.

[Ingold] tells a fast moving tale through the various perspectives of those involved. The fact that she chose very dif
Feb 12, 2009 rated it liked it
I had a hard time getting into this book, but once the separate stories began to come together, I was able to keep the characters straight and follow the plot better. I enjoyed learning about a major catastrophic event from the early 1900s that I had never previously heard of. The characters were sympathetic; the description of the landscape was vivid; and the plot moved at an ample pace. Overall, I liked the book, but it wasn't a page-turner for me.
Dana C.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-reads
I am a historical fiction junkie. Even so, I thought this book was extremely realistic as the characters ignore or contemplate the advancing forest fires that consumed most of Idaho and western Montana in 1910. The book is told in alternating chapters from the point of views of a homesteader, miners, Forest Service, railroad, countless men that drifted toward the work this monster catastrophe provided.
Theresa Vencill
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was about three teenagers that were trapped in fires in the west. One of them was a girl on a homestead, one a boy in the army and one a firefighter. This book tells their story during the biggest inferno that burned. I liked this book because I had never heard of the big burn and i liked the detail the author gave of the characters, fires and towns.
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I have been learning about "the big burn" and was very interested when I found this book. Not only does it give insight into what it must have been like for the people who lived through the fires, but it draws you into the characters and their feeling. I am sure I will read this book over and over again in the years to come.
May 01, 2008 rated it liked it
This is one of those books would never have read or possibly even heard of if not for book club. I liked it fine; I learned some interesting facts about firefighting and the real-life wildfire that ravaged northern Idaho in 1910. A pleasant enough read, nothing to shout about:)
Lance Hansard
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a great historical fiction. Easy to read with a great plot centered around actual history of forest fires in U.S. at the turn of the century, 1900's not 2000's. I guess someone needs to formulate a new saying to differentiate the two.
Apr 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good
this book has a really complex structure to it. It has many characters in many places where they always switch topics but it all ties together into one big ending. It has alot of intense moments but overall this has many good suprises instore!
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
i enjoyed reading this book. I especially liked that it was about Idaho, the state i live in. This book was a very quick read about an interesting subject. I have never heard about these events before.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good historical fiction - replete with adventure, romance and suspense. This wasn't an event I was familiar with -even went online to learn more about it. Interesting to see the differences between how forest fires were fought way back then and now.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Children survive a huge forest fire in northern Idaho in 1910. Based on a true event.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
A very nice historical fiction account of the great fire of 1910 in Northern Idaho. An exciting story line keeps you wanting more and the history is sound.
Mar 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Looked back at my "log". Read this book in 2004. :)
May 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: term-3-reading
It was good, but a little boring.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
this book is confusing and only for really smart people i thought it was funny :/ Yay go fires
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Flush
  • Jumped
  • Whale Talk
  • Out of the Pocket
  • Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two
  • Red Scarf Girl
  • Climbing the Stairs
  • Flash Point
  • I Am the Cheese
  • The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America
  • Esperanza Rising
  • Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town
  • Action Strategies For Deepening Comprehension: Role Plays, Text-Structure Tableaux, Talking Statues, and Other Enactment Techniques That Engage Students with Text
  • The War I Finally Won (The War That Saved My Life, #2)
  • Beyond the Grave (The 39 Clues, #4)
  • Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion (Precious Ramotswe's Very First Cases, #3)
  • The Highwayman's Footsteps
  • When I Was Eight
See similar books…
I love road trips and museums, mountains and woods, libraries and old houses, mysterious photographs, and people with stories to tell. I’m a Montanan who grew up in New York in a family of Texans. I’ve a husband, two kids, a pair of grandkids, and a dog named Mica. Most of my best friends are other writers, and my days don’t feel right when I don’t begin them by putting words on the page. And tha ...more

Related Articles

As this strange summer of staying put winds down, one thing remains truer than ever: Books offer us endless adventure and new horizons to...
53 likes · 30 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »