Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.

Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?

The Phoenix’s Perspective

Before Smoke, there was Burned – our first glimpse into the traumatic life of the Von Stratten family. We were introduced to a world of confusion, repression and violence. Von Stratten very quickly emerges as our villain.  He is a man that is clearly battling his own demons, but has chosen to channel his frustrations through alcohol and physical/verbal abuse.  Pattyn is one of his main targets, which makes the idea of a happy life something unattainable.  She gets a glimpse of it — finding love and starting a family.  However, it is just a fleeting glimpse as tragedy takes this new family from her, leaving her alone and scarred.  Smoke gives us a new look into that same traumatic life.  We are able to look at the past events and their after effects through a new set of eyes.  Jackie exposes us to life after Mr. Von Stratten – life without an abuser dictating your every move.

Reading Smoke really opens up your eyes. It shows you how much of our daily interactions barely scratch the surface of how truly deep and complex people’s lives can be. Yet, at the same time, Smoke also shows us how even “minor” interactions with others can really send positive ripple markers through our lives.  This surprise sequel was a wonderful follow-up to Burned.  It was refreshing to know that, as difficult and long as the road ahead can be, there will always be a way to find home and still feel loved/missed/welcomed.

Would I add it to the library?

Yes! Written in free-verse and alternating points of view, Smoke is a fast easy read into a difficult topic.


Genre: Fiction – emotional problems, physical abuse, emotional abuse, runaways
ISBN: 9781416983293
Rating: good  

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