When I saw the book Paradise – One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire by Lizzie Johnson, I wanted to read it. As someone who lived over 40 years in California, wildfires were an unfortunate part of life. When the strong winds start blowing in the fall, every Californian knows that there’s a chance of a wildfire starting. I knew that this would be a hard book to read, but I am so glad I did.
Lizzie Johnson did an excellent job in telling the story of the town of Paradise which is situated in northern California in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Butte County. She captured the feel of the town and its citizens. Anyone can write about facts and numbers, but Lizzie did a marvelous job making this grievous history personal.
Through all the research that she did, the town’s people she got to know, and how she shared their stories you will better understand the Camp Fire, how it started and why, its devastation and toll, not just to buildings, but to people’s lives and homes. The story is very gripping as she shares the stories of individuals whom she follows through this dreadful day. Eighty-five people lost their lives in the most horrific circumstances. The people that survived, and how they bear the scars from this devastating fire and are working to rebuild their lives.
I appreciated how Lizzie Johnson told the stories of the people of Paradise. She documented what happened, how the fire started, events and circumstances that made evacuating the town’s people safely problematic. So glad the fire wasn’t the end of the story. She tells about the people of Paradise in the months and years afterward.
The ugly truth about PG&E’s criminal negligence and irresponsibility that started the fire is told, as well as decisions by the mayor and town’s council and how it impacted the evacuation of citizens. There was one cause of the fire, but many factors that made the situation worse.
Lizzie Johnson did an excellent job in telling this difficult and painful story in a way that made it personal, showing care and honor to the people impacted. After reading Paradise, when I hear about the Camp Fire, I’m thinking about the people whose lives were impacted by this devastation. I highly recommend this book. It will give you a better understanding of the wildfires in the west that are increasingly common and their dreadful impact on people’s lives.
I would like to thank Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Paradise by Lizzie Johnson. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.