It is the summer of 1910 and wildfires are raging through northern Idaho and Montana. Sixteen-year-old Jarrett Logan signs on to fight the fires and is forced to quickly grow up in ways he never imagined. Private Seth Brown learns the army is much more frightening work and less glory when his division is assigned to fight the fires. Lizbeth Whitcomb realizes the true beauty of the wilderness as she sees it burning before her eyes. Through these perspectives, Ingold shows the bravery and the horror that characterized what is now known as "the Big Burn."
The characters are ordinary teenagers living in an extraordinary time of history. Their relationships and their struggles against nature are both compelling and inspiring. The Big Burn is an interesting retelling of history as well as a very captivating story. It is a good read for teenagers, especially those interested in fire fighting.