I’ve been in a few fights in my life, but never with oiled-up muscle women in spangled bodysuits.
When Ally’s mom dies, Ally is left with no family, no friends and no future. Put into foster care at the age of fifteen, she has less than $200 to her name and nothing left to lose. When Ally meets Tate, a busking fire breather, she starts to see a new life for herself as a street performer. Ally decides to run away from her foster home, but her problems follow her. Hiding her age, sleeping on the streets and avoiding fights with other buskers, Ally discovers that there’s more to life as a fire-breathing busker than not getting burned.
Publishers Weekly: Fire literally lights the way to a new and better life for a struggling teen in this brisk addition to the Soundings series, written at a fourth-grade level. When 15-year-old Ally’s mother dies, she’s left with no one and nothing in the world. But Ally finds excitement, hope, and a bit of romance when she meets Tate, a fire-breathing busker on the beach. Between Tate’s training and Ally’s gymnastics skills, she may have found a way to earn some money and make her way in the world. Tsiang’s protagonist crackles with personality, and readers will be rooting for Ally as she juggles, flips, and breathes fire to come into her own.
National Reading Campaign: Award winning poet and children’s author, Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang, explores love and loss in her poignant coming of age novel, Breathing Fire…Sizzling with the heat and energy of a bonfire, Tsiang’s narrative illuminates the fragile world of foster care, while artfully describing the transient and often dangerous work of buskers and festival performers. Readers will feel the heat of the torches as Ally flips, twists, and tosses, searching for the perfect balance in her act as well as her life.
Kingston Whig Standard: Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang’s first novel, Breathing Fire, is a tough book. It begins with 15-year-old Ally being called into the principal’s office at her high school to be told that her mother has just been killed.”I want my mom here,” Ally thinks, “so I can shake her. I want her here so I can have her hug me and tell me she won’t try it again. I want her to wake up again like she did when I found her with the empty bottles of pills.” …Writers often hear the old adage “Write what you know,” but Sarah knows better. Most of us write what we want to know. And some of us write what scares us.