Author:
Sarah Butler (one of our writers)
Type:
Young adult fiction
Published:
March 2015
Publisher:
Picador
ISBN-13:
978-1447222521

About the publication

It's June 2011. Best friends Stick and Mac can't wait to turn eighteen and escape their north Manchester estate. They've spent months planning a road trip to Spain, but the night before they're due to leave Mac ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and now Stick must face an uncertain future alone. Resisting his family's well-meaning attempts to help, he focuses on seeking justice for his friend and then meets a girl he can't stop thinking about. When riots break out across the country, Stick is still burning with rage and grief and searching for a way to express them . . .
 

Review

The portrait of a young man on the edge, consumed by rage and grief, is beautifully drawn and captivates the reader so well that as the story builds towards the climax the tension is almost unbearable I liked too the flashes of humour and poignancy in the novel which reads like a bittersweet love letter to Manchester (Cath Staincliffe, author of Ruthless)

A brilliant, punchy and utterly contemporary novel which reminds readers of the vitality and resilience of the novel - and the urgency of the issues it explores through its beautifully realised and notably passionate characters. Before the Fire is a novel about what it's like to live now, created by a writer with an unerring eye and a heart which is both humane and discerning (Bidisha, journalist, broadcaster and author of Asylum and Exile)

To read Before the Fire is to walk several miles in other people's shoes, such is the empathetic nature of Sarah Butler's writing. We feel acutely Stick's raw and raging grief, his disillusionment for the future, and the hopeless, heartbreaking gestures of those around him. It's a tender, powerful, affecting novel, and one I enjoyed greatly (Emylia Hall, author of The Book of Summers)

A moving portrayal of a country in crisis, getting under the skin of both the issues and the people affected by them (Emylia Hall, author of The Book of Summers)

Butler is brilliant at capturing Stick's inner teenage turmoil, his anger, his feelings of futility, the terrible depths of his grief and his easy contempt for adults who clumsily try to help. By setting the novel in the months leading up to the 2011 riots, Butler also hints at a wider social dimension to teenage disaffection, while ensuring that Stick remains a riveting and sympathetic character (The Daily Mail)

Too few novels describe working class lives and the context and reasons for their anger and hopelessness. I found the characters in Before the Fire real and authentic and was rooting for them throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed it (Alex Wheatle)

An extraordinary novel, set in a world that isn't often written about with such a profound sense of understanding and truth. Stick is a beautifully drawn complex, likeable, understandable boy/man, living on the edge and struggling with making sense of it all . . . Brilliant . . . A stirring read (Mavis Cheek)

Butler is brilliant at capturing Stick's inner teenage turmoil, his anger, his feelings of futility, the terrible depths of his grief and his easy contempt for adults who clumsily try to help. By setting the novel in the months leading up to the 2011 riots, Butler also hints at a wider social dimension to teenage disaffection, while ensuring that Stick remains a riveting and sympathetic character (Daily Mail)

Book Description

The stunning and timely new novel from Sarah Butler, author of the international sensation Ten Things I've Learnt About Love

From the Author

Sarah Butler is in her early thirties and lives in Manchester. She is the author of Ten Things I've Learnt About Love, which was pre-empted by Penguin USA in a six-figure deal and translated in fourteen languages. She also runs a consultancy which develops literature and arts projects that explore and question our relationship to place. Sarah has been writer in residence on the Central Line, the Greenwich Peninsula, and at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and has taught creative writing for the British Council in Kuala Lumpur.

From the Inside Flap

It's June 2011. Best friends Stick and Mac are two boys on the verge of becoming men, their sights set on escaping the north Manchester estate they grew up on for the beaches of southern Spain. They've bought a beaten-up car on eBay, they've got a route planned, they're going to meet girls, work in bars and maybe never come home . . .

But the night before they're due to leave, Mac ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and suddenly Stick's going nowhere. His mum doesn't want him to leave the house, his dad's desperate to be his best friend, and everyone seems to have an opinion on what he should do next - except Stick himself.

Then he meets J and she might just be everything he needs. But Stick is still burning with rage and grief, and the August riots are about to explode . . .

Inspired by the riots that swept the UK in the summer of 2011, Before the Fire is a bold, thought-provoking and compassionate take on a piece of our all too recent history. It's a novel about friendship and family, the shocking effects of a sudden tragedy, and the enduring power of love.

From the Back Cover

'The portrait of a young man on the edge, consumed by rage and grief, is beautifully drawn and captivates the reader so well that as the story builds towards the climax the tension is almost unbearable'
Cath Staincliffe, author of Ruthless

'A brilliant, punchy and utterly contemporary novel which reminds readers of the vitality and resilience of the novel - and the urgency of the issues it explores through its beautifully realised and notably passionate characters. Before the Fire is a novel about what it's like to live now, created by a writer with an unerring eye and a heart which is both humane and discerning'
Bidisha, journalist, broadcaster and author of Asylum and Exile

About the Author

Sarah Butler is in her early thirties and lives in Manchester. She is the author of Ten Things I've Learnt About Love, which was pre-empted by Penguin USA in a six-figure deal and translated in fourteen languages. She also runs a consultancy which develops literature and arts projects that explore and question our relationship to place. Sarah has been writer in residence on the Central Line, the Greenwich Peninsula, and at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and has taught creative writing for the British Council in Kuala Lumpur.

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