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TORCH by Lyn Miller-Lachmann Kirkus Star


by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-72841-568-0
Publisher: Carolrhoda

The brightest torches burn quickly.

Readers barely have a chance to get to know 17-year-old Pavol Bartoš, a young man whose bright future was extinguished when the oppressive Czechoslovak Communist Party, or KSČ, government denied his application to attend university and instead directed him to report for duty as a miner. Fueled by a desire to confront the unfair, authoritarian regime and guided by altruistic (if innocent) ideals, Pavol and his friends draft a letter that they plan to present to the government office in Prague Castle. When this plan falls apart, Pavol is resigned to what he believes is his last, terrible option: death. Pavol follows the example of real-life activist Jan Palach, a student who set himself ablaze in 1969 as an act of political protest against the KSČ. Pavol’s untimely death has unforeseen consequences for his friends—gay former school bully Štěpán; bookish neurodiverse Tomáš; and Pavol’s newly pregnant girlfriend, Lída. Readers will be on the edges of their seats with fear as they follow the social, psychological, and physical fallout for this trio as they deal with the consequences of Pavol’s actions while fighting for their own brief moments of happiness and hope. The story presents an unflinching look at the toll of authoritarianism; it’s a tale that will inspire readers to examine modern politics and the need for people to stand up for personal rights before human torches are once again lit.

Equally terrifying and captivating.

(discussion questions, author’s note, historical note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)