Conor's Reviews > Into the Firestorm: A Novel of San Francisco, 1906

Into the Firestorm by Deborah Hopkinson
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's review
Oct 30, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: 9th-grade-advisory

Into the Firestorm: A Novel of San Francisco, 1906
Deborah Hopikinson
208 pages
September 12th, 2006. Knopf books for young readers

Based on a true story, Into the Firestorm explores a runaways adventure to San Francisco. From his grandmother dead , to the brutal workings of labor in the cotton fields the main character, Nicholas Dray, runs away from the madness of his troubled past to San Francisco. His dream is to find work, but as the story goes, nothing worth happening comes easily.

Nicholas is looked down poorly by many. The story starts off with him being chased by the cops for being accused of stealing from something he didn't. His face is dirty and he was rather unhygenical. He was a runaway after all. What keeps him going are the wonderful streets of San Francisco. Everything about it amazes him, and at several moments in the book Nicholas takes moments to just breathe everything in.

His opporunity comes when he approaches a closed storefront. The store sells ink quills of all kinds. Nicholas has early memories of writing in the fields (his Gran taught him to write, I believe), and this felt like his major opportunity to shine. When the owner Pat Patterson comes back, along with his golden retriever Shake (short for Shakespeare) Nicholas is looked upon poorly. It takes a while to prove himself, but evenutally Nicholas is given a big responsibility. Pat had a buisness trip to attend to, and needed someone to look after the store, and Shake (who later appears to have a bigger role in the story than one might think). Nicholas glady embraced looking after the store as a huge opporunity to prove himself to everyone, including himself.

All goes awry however, when a sudden shake knocks over several quills. It is later revealed to be the historical California firestorm/earthquakes of 1906. With the help of a little girl (who also had a greater role in the story than one might think), is there even hope for Nicholas' survival? Find out in this great novel!

I really enjoyed this book. It was sort of long, but the author wrote in a very captivating way that made me want to read more. If anyone's in search of a book I highly reccomend it. Not only does it give a mini-history lesson (your teachers may be impressed), but it's written for people around our age. So read it today, you got nothing to lose!

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