American Fire [GRPL Book Club]
Love, Arson, and Life in A Vanishing LandBook Club Kit - 2018
"The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn't stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County--once the richest rural county in the nation--waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding one another with compassion at first, and, later, suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural coast. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. Local police were stretched thin. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, and by the dozen they were going up in flames. Over two years of investigation, Monica Hesse uncovered the motives of troubled mechanic Charlie Smith and his struggling accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick. In depicting dangerous shifts in their fraught relationship, Hesse introduces the once-thriving coastal community, decimated by a punishing economy and increasingly afraid. American Fire re-creates the anguished nights when this quiet county was set on fire, evoking a microcosm of rural America--a land gutted before the fires even began."--Back cover.