Zibby Mag, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, and She Reads Most Anticipated Book of the Year
"A complex dissection of the impacts of climate change, with an array of characters who feel true and affecting, A Fire So Wild tackles not only a terrifying natural disaster, but the scorching inequality of the aftermath, and demands that we don't look away." -- Charlotte McConaghy, New York Times bestselling author of Once There Were Wolves
“Ruiz-Grossman balances the social and political, the emotional and physical, with insight and precision. Her disparate characters all hail from different worlds, and it’s a horrific thrill to witness their dramas unfurl and collide." -- New York Times Book Review
With the emotional echoes of Little Fires Everywhere and the lush atmosphere of Disappearing Earth, a riveting debut novel in which a wildfire creeps toward Berkeley, California, igniting tensions as characters from all walks of life confront the injustices lying beneath the city’s surface.
As a wildfire threatens Berkeley, the city’s inhabitants are forced to reckon with the cracks in the lives they've built.
Abigail, a wealthy homeowner, decides to throw a lavish birthday in a hillside mansion to raise money for the city’s newest affordable housing project—and prove to her family that she’s made something worthwhile of her life. Sunny, a construction worker who sleeps in a van along the bay’s shore, is in the running for an apartment—but only if enough funds are raised at the party.
As the heat and smoke from the approaching blaze descend upon the town, tensions rise and residents—young and old, haves and have nots—confront the inequities laid bare, and the fragility of building a life in a world on fire.
Alternating among a colorful cast of characters, A Fire So Wild is a timely, tautly paced novel that questions why when everything burns, not everyone is left with scars.
About the Author
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman is a writer and former reporter at HuffPost, where she covered the climate crisis and other social justice issues. She lives in California with her husband and their pit bull.
"A complex dissection of the impacts of climate change, with an array of characters who feel true and affecting, A Fire So Wild tackles not only a terrifying natural disaster, but the scorching inequality of the aftermath, and demands that we don't look away." — Charlotte McConaghy, New York Times bestselling author of Once There Were Wolves
“Bracing . . . Ruiz-Grossman balances the social and political, the emotional and physical, with insight and precision. Her disparate characters all hail from different worlds, and it’s a horrific thrill to witness their dramas unfurl and collide. Through the juxtapositions they experience . . . Ruiz-Grossman highlights gross economic disparity and the falsity of upward mobility. . . . Before the fire bursts onto the scene, her descriptions of the natural world are bewitching. . . . Her prose is equally sharp and evocative when the fire finally does arrive.” — New York Times Book Review
“Ruiz-Grossman’s captivating debut chronicles a wildfire’s impact on a diverse set of residents of Berkeley. . . . It’s a gripping page-turner with a surprising twist, as a set of disgruntled survivors form an unlikely alliance and take drastic action. The complex characterizations and realistic scenarios converge to deliver a satisfying punch." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Slender and evocative, and devastatingly observant. The characters hung around my head for days after I finished it." — Chloe Angyal, author of Turning Pointe
"Sarah Ruiz-Grossman’s deep understanding of the overlapping climate and affordable housing crises shines through A Fire So Wild, a sharp and empathetic look at who gets to rebuild when disaster strikes. It is a cautionary but hopeful story about the limits of good intentions and incremental reform." — Jessica Schulberg, senior justice reporter at HuffPost
"Sarah Ruiz-Grossman's debut novel is riveting from start to finish. Through her diverse array of characters, she captures the many realities that people across all backgrounds face in the wake of climate change destruction. Her passion for California and her knowledge of covering natural disasters shines in vivid and heartbreaking prose that doesn't shy away from the injustices of our society." — Saba Hamedy, culture editor at NBC News
“I loved this novel. Ruiz-Grossman spotlights the monstrosity of our climate crisis with digestible and tender prose. Atmospheric and gut-wrenching, this novel is a timely reminder for each of us of all we will lose if we turn the other way.” — Sahaj Kaur Kohli, author of But What Will People Say?
"Sarah Ruiz-Grossman presents a passionate yet critical observation of the devastating effects of a California wildfire that indiscriminately upends the lives of residents from various socioeconomic backgrounds. . . . Ruiz-Grossman's piercing commentary reveals the inequality and injustices of climate change for people just trying to live their lives. — Scientific American
"Ruiz-Grossman’s debut novel follows characters as their lives collide amidst devastation and heartbreak. . . . When a fast-moving wildfire tears through Berkeley during Abigail’s event, the diverse characters are directly in its path, and all are left struggling to forge ahead in the complex aftermath. . . . As the characters’ paths twine with fervor, Ruiz-Grossman's engaging tale offers a vivid exploration of modern-day disparities within the timeless and universal search for belonging and self-determination." — Booklist
"A Fire So Wild delivers a powerful message about natural disasters and the unique challenges people face in the aftermath." — Novels Alive