Controlled Burn (Paperback)
Twelve-year-old Maia’s parents say she’s lucky she noticed something as early as she did. Lucky to have smelled the smoke, lucky to have pulled her sister, Amelia, out of their burning house. But is it really “lucky” when Amelia’s stuck in the hospital, covered in burns? And is it “lucky” when Maia knows it was her candle, left unattended, that started the fire in the first place?
When she’s sent to spend the summer with her grandparents in Northern Minnesota while her sister heals, Maia discovers that her anxieties and demons are intent on following her wherever she goes…unless she can figure out how to overcome them. But what if she can’t? Maia barely knows her grandparents, she desperately misses her sister and home, and she’s not thrilled to be spending the summer with Grandpa Howard on his daily motorcycle rides out to the middle of the woods, where he spends all day keeping watch for forest fires. There are no kids her age in Gram and Pop’s small town at “the end of the road”—just the chatty nine-year-old neighbor who is intent on getting his Bear Scout badge at all costs, and a friendly, stray dog who’s been lurking around.
But Maia will soon learn that nature is a powerful teacher, and sometimes our greatest strengths show themselves when we have to be there for someone else. As she begins to figure out how to face her guilt and paralyzing fears, she’ll discover there’s a fine line between fear and adventure. And when danger strikes again, Maia must summon all her bravery and overcome her self-doubt if she wants to save those she loves most.
"A gorgeous, tender, wonderful book. Controlled Burn is a testament to the power and beauty of everyday moments of bravery, compassion, and love." -- Anne Ursu, author of The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy
“A compelling and moving exploration of the bonds of family, overcoming fears, and the power of friendship.” -- Hena Khan, award-winning author of Amina's Voice
"Sensitively wrought... Soderburg Downing meaningfully explores the healing power of nature and the beauty of connecting with family in this vibrantly detailed adventure." -- Publisher's Weekly
"An exciting story with well developed characters who learn that since you can’t change the past, you need to move forward. Readers will be rooting for Maia!" -- School Library Connection