Theresa Linden does it again with a fabulous book for teens! Author of the award-winning Battle for His Soul, Linden continues the story of the West Brothers as all three boys prepare for Confirmation in the Catholic Church. Jarret, Keefe, and Roland were never confirmed, and after their mother died, their father spent a lot of time grieving. It took a miracle to get Keefe to come back to the Church, and his newfound piety intrigues his twin and encourages his younger brother.
This book primarily centers on Peter Brandt, Roland’s friend. A member of the Fire Starters youth group, along with Caitlyn Summer and her friends, Peter is concerned for the future of their church building. St. Michael’s suffers some roof damage, and needs updates in other areas as well. The cost could be prohibitive for the diocese, causing St. Michael’s to merge with another parish and close its doors for good.
Peter takes it upon himself to try to solve the mystery of who or what caused the damage to the church roof. An avid engineer, he builds a motion detector for surveillance. He also confronts people as he searches for answers, with teenage forthrightness and a distinct lack of tact.
Meanwhile, Caitlyn has her own problems. Homeschooling for the first time is just one of them, as her mother leaves to help Caitlyn’s aging grandmother. Will she miss her friends at school? Will she be able to help Roland and his brothers with catechism study and preparation while she is so busy at home, taking care of everyone?
As Roland searches for his reasons to be confirmed, Jarret wrestles with past sins and feels deeply unworthy. All of us can recognize something of ourselves in these teens, whether passionate or shy, giddy or sorrowful. To be confirmed is to choose to be a defender of the good, and the enemy of evil. Fire Starters brings to light the sin of judging someone without knowing the truth, the way Peter judges Jarret. And the teens who have already been confirmed keep finding the graces of the sacrament of Confirmation that follow them through life, which is a beautiful discovery.
Theresa Linden does a masterful job of getting inside the heads of teenagers and showing the importance of the sacrament of Confirmation. I love that her books are not sappy; the drama feels very real. This book has an especially beautiful portrayal of the death of a family member, and the fallout on everyone involved. I especially enjoyed the poem at the end, as well as the Surrender Prayer Novena. I highly recommend this book for 12 years and up.