Larry Allen is a high school football quarterback who follows in his famous dad’s footsteps, Robert Allen, a popular, maybe too popular, football pro. Life is not as perfect where the grass is greener and Larry’s family situation is way past dysfunctional, but through it all there is a thread of enduring love and faith. Larry is not even at the peak of his high school football pursuits when he is sidelined by a serious injury to his brain. Rather than take it easy and heal Larry sees all his hopes and dreams being threatened by TBI, traumatic brain injury, and becomes angry and frustrated, also symptoms of TBI.

You don’t need to know anything about TBI or football. The author, Denise Bartlett, expertly draws the reader into the world of high school football, to the point where you’re standing on the 50 yard line with the players in the field. But you also feel their pain, their hopes and their dreams for that elusive college scholarship, and the lure of a megabucks professional football career, and the grief when it becomes more important than family, health and love. As Larry’s injuries accumulate, his broken family pulls together for him, and as he recovers they mend old hurts and misunderstandings. If Larry Allen chooses to continue football instead of recovery it could cost him the very things he loves.

Through the Flames

a novel by Denise Bartlett

review by Ruth J. Burroughs