Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt and her mother live in Fallbrook, California, where its sunny 340 days of the year and where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Uncle Hoyt hires migrant workers regularly, but Pearl doesnt pay much attention to them... until Amiel. From the moment she sees him, Pearl is drawn to this boy who keeps to himself, fears being caught by la migra, and is mysteriously unable to talk. And after coming across Amiels makeshift hut near Agua Prieta Creek, Pearl falls into a precarious friendship and a forbidden romance. Then the wildfires strike.
Fallbrook - the town of marigolds and palms, blood oranges and sweet limes - is threatened by the Agua Prieta fire, and a mandatory evacuation order is issued. But Pearl knows that Amiel is in the direct path of the fire, with no one to warn him, no way to get out. Slipping away from safety and her family, Pearl moves toward the dark creek, where the smoke has become air, the air smoke.
Laura McNeal has crafted a beautiful and haunting novel full of peril, desperation, and love.