Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt vs. Tillmon County Fire by Pamela Ehrenberg

The NerdsHeartYA contest is a tournament for under represented YA literature.  The two books that I reviewed are Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt and Tillmon County Fire by Pamela Ehrenberg.  I’ll review each one and then provide my decision at the end – so here goes…

Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt

I really enjoyed this book!  For me it was really easy to walk into it and appreciate the characters and the beauty of their environment.  Remy and his girlfriend Lisa just graduated from high school in a small town called Dwyer, West Virginia.  The kind of place you hear about where folks swear they’ll leave as soon as they can – a dying coal town.  Shortly after Remy agreed to move away with Lisa, he meets Dana, a student painter, in town just long enough to paint a mural on the water tower.  His relationship with Dana makes Remy question who he really is and where he belongs.

The story provided great insight to a young man’s internal struggle.  Too many times today do we see the young teens in any community follow their friends “just because” and find ways of justifying their decisions – if they only had the insight and courage to follow their own hearts!

Favourite quote:

“The night was cool and there was enough of a moon to see by.  A soft mist drifted down the side of the mountain and settled in the hollow like a ghost come home.  Remy wasn’t superstitious, didn’t think there was anything in the mist but mist.  All the same, it gave him a shiver to walk through it, like walking through someone’s breath.  The breath of the mountain.”          p. 53

Wyatt, Melissa. (2009).  Funny How Things Change.  New York, NY:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Author website:

Author interview:

Tillmon County Fire by Pamela Ehrenberg

Sorry to say that at the beginning of this book I struggled…  I struggled to understand the different characters and how they related to each other – but the more I read the more I understood and the more I couldn’t put down!  I’ll admit though I had to go back several times to the table of contents to remind myself who I’ve already read about and who was captured in whose story.

The story takes place in a small town in Tillmon County, West Virginia, where the lives of eight teenagers intersect when a mansion is set afire.  The story is told by the eight teens in their own voices (and typed in different fonts – which I thought was great!), each with a different background and view of society.  Each with their own unique interpretation of life and who they are.

Favourite quote(s):

“She was like a lone clarinetist who keeps playing the music when everyone else is in chaos, so it comes out looking like she’s the crazy one.”             p. 99

“Does anyone act alone?  Maybe some places, where everyone doesn’t know each other and a person can sneeze without the whole country knowing about it – maybe in those places, people can act alone. …
Anyone, most of us, I think, don’t want to act alone.  We want to be part of the band.”           p. 157

Ehrenberg, Pamela. (2009). Tillmon County Fire. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Author website:

Author interview hosted by:  Rhapsody in Books


So…  I knew nothing about either book before I read them and yes I had NEVER heard of them either.  Both were great stories – and yes they were both set in small-town West Virginia, where the young teenagers are eager to move away and start their lives.  Funny How Things Changed focused on Remy and his struggles, really allowing the reader to get to know him and appreciate who he is and where he’s coming from.  Whereas Tillmon County Fire showcased eight different teens, popped into each of their lives for a few moments and put them all in the context of this one fire.  Each book brought different aspects of the small-town teen’s life to the reader, with Tillmon County Fire tackling several societal issues in a short period – yet it was done in a real and great way!


So…  do I REALLY have to choose only one?  I truly enjoyed reading both books – but I’ll have to say that I preferred Funny How Things Changed by Melissa Wyatt.


9 thoughts on “Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt vs. Tillmon County Fire by Pamela Ehrenberg

    • You’re right – my problem is picking one or two of the 10 or so I find while reading the book 🙂 Sometimes I ended up picking the one quote without realizing its impact on the book.. It’s fun 🙂

  1. Thanks so much for the well thought out decision Melissa. I’ve been looking forward to this bracket so much, because I already have ‘Funny…’ on my shelves and really want ‘Tillmon County Fires’. I feel like this was a super tough first bracket, possibly the hardest of the contest so far!

    • It was a tough one – I REALLY liked them both – but the Funny How Things Changed talked to me a bit more. Although I’m very intrigued by both authors now – so I’ll be reading more 🙂

  2. Pingback: First Round Decisions «

  3. Thanks so much for the review, and I’m looking forward to checking out Funny How Things Change! Meanwhile, I love doing Skype visits around the country, so I hope folks will feel free to check out my website or drop me a note. Best wishes to all in the tournament!

  4. I loved Funny How Things Changed. After seeing this and reading Jill’s review of Tillmon County Fire, I am looking forward to checking that book out as well.

    I am glad you had two great books to choose from. Hopefully both titles are at all or most West Virginia libraries.

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