A Fire Story, by Brian Fies

Brian Fies is an award-winning graphic memoirist who lives in Santa Rosa. When the firestorms of October 2017 swept through his city, his home was completely destroyed. Shocked and suddenly homeless, Fies tried to deal with the loss the only way he knew how: writing and drawing about it. Mere days later, he posted the germ of this book on his blog and it went viral, picked up by national media outlets and adapted into a short, Emmy Award-winning video.

My parents lost their home in the fire here in Napa at the same time, so I can say with confidence that Fies gets everything right. There is the relief that his family is safe, the stunned disbelief upon seeing the ashes of what once was their home, the everyday oddities that crop up when you both need everything and nothing at all, with no place to put any of it. The bold primary colors saturate the pages beautifully and help make a powerful statement.

The strength of this book isn't just Fies' own story, but the stories of other Santa Rosa residents he peppers throughout it. We see the fire through their eyes too, get a taste of the very different circumstances so many people found themselves in despite the superficial similarities. This is a powerful memoir, a book that will surely make those of us who lived through this tragedy feel not quite so alone, and one that will help those who didn't experience it understand what their neighbors are going through.

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