In 1995, when Sarah James was 17, a fire tore through the forests of her childhood home in the Arizona mountains. The flames took neighborhoods, ponderosas, canyons, and lives. Sarah loved the boy who ignited them. Soon after he disappeared, she traded mountain aspens for desert saguaros, and let the ashes settle behind her.
Twenty years later, the mountains call Sarah home. Not long after opening a law practice in her hometown, she begins to represent Elsie, a 15-year-old in foster care. Elsie’s determination to color-code and organize the world into submission triggers a spark of recognition, forcing Sarah to revisit not only the girl she used to be, but the boy she used to love. Her work on the case stirs the dormant ashes of that long-ago fire, rewriting the story Sarah knows about how it started, how it ended, and the lives it destroyed. Will the truth about Elsie and the fire reignite Sarah's buried longing to find the boy who fled the flames?
One Alight, All Aflame is a contemporary novel about connection and finding your place, drawn both from my Arizona upbringing and from more than ten years representing, counseling, and working with court-involved children on the East Coast. If Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees and Prodigal Summer blended with Kent Haruf's Plainsong in a snowbound mountain cabin, One Alight, All Aflame would be the result.