Clare Frank's Burnt: A Memoir of Fighting Fire is a heart-racing, heartfelt story that will make readers laugh, cry, and consider what matters most in life. The author is an indomitable character, from self-supporting teen through a decades-long career in California firefighting (beginning in 1982, when women were few and generally viewed askance), with impressive achievements in her career and personal life. Frank's memoir is packed not only with adrenaline but with sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and creativity.
After talking her unorthodox parents into emancipating her at 16, Frank becomes a firefighter at 17 (faced with an age requirement of 18, she simply leaves her birthdate blank on the employment form). She is indefatigable: stubborn, hardworking, short-fused, and tenacious. Frank rises through the firefighting ranks in her 33-year career (with a five-year doctor-mandated medical break), finishing with the lofty position of State Chief of Fire Protection, six ranks above captain, the highest she once thought she would be willing to attain.
Frank is a renegade overachiever in all areas: athletic, career, and (after a late return to the classroom) academic. Her writing is not merely serviceable, but thoughtfully constructed; her memoir's sections are labeled for stages of fire development: ignition, sustained heat, free burn, growth, full development, and decay. By the end of this memorable book, readers will reconsider fire policy as well as family, risk, and hard work. With thrilling momentum and a heat of its own, Burnt is a sensation and an inspiration. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia