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WILDFIRE: Losing Everything, Gaining the World
In August of 2020, the CZU Lightning Complex, a wildfire in Northern California, destroyed my home, all my belongings, as well as my beloved pets, bees, trees, and gardens that had been my sanctuary for thirteen years. What has resulted is a collection of musings that are part eco-disaster handbook and part climate refugee chronicles, but also a love story about a piece of land that enchanted me from the moment I stepped foot beneath the trees. WILDFIRE was written as the disaster unfolded, starting on the day I found out my home had burned, and ending on the one-year anniversary of the CZU fires. We live in an age of ecosystem collapse, but also a time of great renewal. As wildfires rage worse in the world every year, more people will face the same loss and rebirth that I did; I hope they, and anyone who has been torn from a place or person they love, will find comfort in my words. WILDFIRE is a story of rage and despair, guilt and hope in the face of an environmental disaster. It is about the sacrifices it takes to be a steward rather than an owner of this beautiful planet we call home.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.50 out of 10


Plot: Nicole Sallak Anderson is a free spirit who connects with trees, fairies, and other ethereal and timeless beings. She is able to see the beauty and depth that is present underneath the shallow outer layers of life, which proves itself to be a valuable gift. Anderson presents the reader with a powerful collection of essays regarding falling in love with a space, watching it literally burn to nothing, and then rising from the ashes.

Prose: Anderson's writing flows gently like a calm creek; one can get lost in her prose as she meanders through the different emotions centered around loss, grieving, acceptance, and moving forward.

Originality: Although the idea of a phoenix rising from the ashes is a fairly tired trope, Anderson's careful prose and personal details keep the reader invested as they continue to page through the evolution of her grief and rebirth.

Character/Execution: Anderson presents a few main characters in her essays, and the majority of them are not human. These include the little fairy who has inhabited her property and given her hints as to how to conduct her life, various trees who impart their wisdom, and other specters. It is enlightening to read about these living beings who we traditionally do not think of as characters, as Anderson brings them to life in a very humble and authentic way.


Date Submitted: January 08, 2023