Firegirl

Firegirl

4.2 108
by Tony Abbott, Sean Kenin
     
 

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"This novel may be brief, but it leaves a big impact."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Tom's a normal seventh-grader, negotiating a slightly prickly stage in his long friendship with Jeff...The arrival of new girl Jessica Feeney, however, changes everything; Jessica, who is attending a local hospital for treatment, has been badly burned by a fire

Overview

"This novel may be brief, but it leaves a big impact."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Tom's a normal seventh-grader, negotiating a slightly prickly stage in his long friendship with Jeff...The arrival of new girl Jessica Feeney, however, changes everything; Jessica, who is attending a local hospital for treatment, has been badly burned by a fire, and her terrible disfigurement shocks the class into confusion. This isn't the usual book about adjustment to difference; instead, Abbott brilliantly explores the kids' struggle to manage the intrusion of abnormality in their lives...this is a thoughtful exploration of a brief interlude's lasting impact."
-The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kenin is believable as Tom Bender, the seventh-grade narrator of this brief, affecting tale about how a young burn victim shakes up the lives of everyone around her. Tom, who describes himself as a chubby, sweaty kid that nobody really notices, inadvertently draws attention to himself by being the one person who shows small kindnesses to new classmate Jessica, a girl badly disfigured in a fire. Tom and Jessica begin to bond when Tom delivers her homework on a day that Jessica has been absent from school. But just as the friendship starts to take hold, Jessica and her family abruptly leave town to seek treatment for her at a hospital in a different city. Though Tom had known Jessica for only a short time, he now knows he's forever changed. Kenin conveys Tom's transformation, largely in a final conversation with Jessica, with an authentic-sounding emotional poignancy that is hard to forget. Ages 10-up. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
When burn victim Jessica Feeney enters St. Catherine's school, she is almost too hideous to behold. Although Mrs. Tracy, the homeroom teacher attempts to prepare the students, no one is really ready for the shock of Jessica's appearance. Even though she is only in the school a few weeks, her presence and her ordeal changes the life of one student, Tom Bender. Told in first person, this is a powerful story of simple things and the complexities of being sensitive. Tom has a crush on Courtney, a beautiful classmate, and when Jessica becomes a part of the class, making an impression on his secret love becomes the driving force of Tom's life. Vying for utmost importance in Tom's life is the promise of his friend, Jeff, that they will both take a ride in Jeff's uncle's Cobra. However, after meeting Jessica and coming to understand her accident, Tom's perspective is radically changed. 2006, Little Brown, Ages 8 to 12.
—Janice DeLong
VOYA - Arlene Garcia
Abbott, best known for several series for younger readers, creates in his first novel for young adults an affecting story about a middle school boy and his relationship with the new girl in his class. The cover, title, and premise of an outsider changing the life of a teen boy are reminiscent of Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl (Knopf, 2000/VOYA October 2000), but that is where the similarity ends. Abbott's heroine is outcast by her severe disfigurement and not choice. Tom and his classmates do not know how to react to Jessica, but when circumstances force Tom to visit her at home, his perception of her-and of his classmates-is radically altered. There is no simple ending to this story of how people respond when unimaginable tragedy strikes. Abbott proves that he is no mere series hack with this short but powerfully moving achievement. His masterful use of description evokes the depth of Jessica's suffering. A scene in the beginning where Tom and his friend burn a toy car juxtaposes hauntingly with the circumstances of the girl's gruesome accident. The complex relationship she has with her mother, who witnessed her daughter's transition from gifted beauty to shunned outsider but was unable to rescue her, is crystallized in one short paragraph involving a stuffed frog. Tom is, of course, changed forever by his brief friendship with Jessica, and readers will be too.
VOYA - Danielle Cooper
When a badly scarred girl shows up at St. Catherine's School, Tom Bender's seventh grade class is turned upside down. Even though she only stays for a short time, she teaches Tom a lesson about true beauty that he'll never forget. Written from Tom's point of view, Firegirl expresses the thoughts of a seventh grade boy who for the first time comes face to face with a situation where he must choose between doing the right thing or maintaining the popularity he has. Well-written and hauntingly realistic, Firegirl is a story that will stay with you for years to come.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Tom, a seventh grader, tells about the arrival of Jessica, a new student who was badly burned in a fire and is attending St. Catherine's while she gets treatments at a local hospital. The students in Tom's class are afraid of her because of her appearance but little by little he develops a friendship with her that changes his life. Through realistic settings and dialogue, and believable characters, readers will be able to relate to the social dynamics of these adolescents who are trying to handle a difficult situation. The students who shy away from Jessica are at a loss as to what to say. Tom begins to look beyond her exterior and realizes that his life will not be the same after she leaves, just three weeks later. The theme of acceptance is presented in a touching story of friendship that is easy to read yet hard to forget.-Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Seventh-grader Tom Bender is nowhere near the in-crowd at St. Catherine's Catholic School. He does, nonetheless, have a crush on popular Courtney, and he fantasizes about saving her from wild disasters. Tom's only friend Jeff is struggling to deal with his parents' divorce as well as his father's indifference, and Jeff does so by acting out and lying. Not long after the start of the school year, Jessica Feeney joins their class. She's a burn survivor who's in town for treatment. The students don't know how to act around her. Jeff finds her abhorrent; Courtney feels sorry for her. A little scared at first, Tom slowly gets to know Jessica and misses her when she leaves abruptly. His short friendship with Jessica has gotten him noticed by Courtney and has started to draw him out of his shell. Prolific fantasy author Abbott has created a realistic wallflower struggling to bloom. However, Tom's fantasies quickly become repetitive, and several logical inconsistencies keep this from being totally successful, despite its worthy messages. (Fiction 9-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739348802
Publisher:
Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/10/2007
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 5.85(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Firegirl


By Tony Abbott

LITTLE BROWN FOR YOUNG READERS

Copyright © 2006 Tony Abbott
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-01171-1


Chapter One

It wasn't much, really, the whole Jessica Feeney thing. If you look at it, nothing much happened. She was a girl who came into my class after the beginning of the year and was only there for a couple of weeks or so. Stuff did get a little crazy for a while, but it didn't last long, and I think it was mostly in my head anyway. Then she wasn't there anymore.

That was pretty much it.

I had a bunch of things going on then, and she was just one of them. There was the car and the class election and Courtney and Jeff. But there was Jessica, too. If I think about it now, I guess I would say that the Friday before she came was probably the last normal day for a while. As normal as things ever were with me and Jeff.

It was the last week of September. The weather had been warm all the way from the start of school. St. Catherine's has gray blazers, navy blue pants, white shirts, and blue ties, and it was hot in our uniforms. I sweat most of those days, right through my shirt, making what some of the kids called stink spots under the arms. We weren't allowed to take off our blazers in school, even when it was hot, so mine always got stained from the sweat.

Like most afternoons, I got off the bus at Jeff Hicks's house. We jumped from the top of the bus stairs and hit the front yardrunning, our blazers flying in our hands.

"You ever smell blood?" he asked, half turning to me.

Jeff had been my friend for about three years, since the summer after third grade. As we went up the side steps to his house, I remember thinking that he asked me off-the-wall questions a lot.

"What?" I said.

Jeff always said some strange thing, then waited, and I would ask "what?" so he could say it again and make a thing about it. He reached the door first.

"Did you ever smell blood?" he repeated.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"Sometimes my mom comes home from the hospital all bloody from the emergency room-"

We rushed through the side door, making a lot of noise in the empty kitchen. Jeff's house was always unlocked, even though it had been empty all day.

"-some guy's guts on her shirt," he said. "It's so gross. It's the coolest thing. So, did you ever smell blood?" He yanked open the refrigerator door.

"I don't know. Maybe. When I cut my finger-"

"That's not enough. I mean a lot. A whole glass of the stuff."

I felt my stomach jump a little. "A glass of blood?" I said. "Who has glasses of blood?"

He pulled out a tumbler of red liquid-blood?-from the refrigerator and began drinking. He drank and laughed and drank. I finally realized it was cranberry juice. The juice sloshed all down his chin and onto the front of his white shirt.

His shirt had little blots of red spreading down the front as he was dripping juice and laughing and watching me, until I laughed, too, at the whole thing.

"Stupid," I breathed. "How long did you have that glass waiting in there?"

Laughing even harder, he put the dripping glass on the kitchen table and wiped his mouth on his cuff. "By the way, I went for a ride in it last night." He went to the basement door and pulled it open.

I was still looking at the glass on the table. "Huh?"

He jumped down the stairs to a room with a TV and paneling. There were dark wooden shelves on the walls piled with stacks of his comic books.

I was right behind him. "You went for a ride in what?" It was that game again. But I already knew.

"Duh. In your brain," he said. "My uncle's Cobra. I thought it was all you ever thought about."

"Yeah? The Cobra?"

He snickered as he went to the shelves. "The Cobra."

A Cobra is a classic sports car from the 1960s. I love Cobras. Not the skinny kind they made for a couple of years, but the fat one. You see them every once in a while. A Cobra is low and all curved and super-fat, like a chunky bug that's pumped up like a balloon. It isn't a family car. It's just two seats, a steering wheel, and pedals on the floor. It's a machine. The racing tires are really fat. The wheel wells over each tire flare out like big, angry lips. The front end of a Cobra looks like a snake, with two headlights like eyes and a big mouth (the radiator hole) that could suck the pavement right up into it. It's the nastiest-looking fast car on the road.

I love Cobras. I've built plastic models of them. I've bought magazines about them. I once went to an auto show with my father, and they had a red racing Cobra there. The shine was so thick it seemed like if you dipped your finger into it, it would be hot and wet. But they wouldn't let you get near enough to touch it. "As if it's so hot it'll burn you," I remember telling my father. He laughed. Cruise nights at a drive-in restaurant in the next town sometimes had a Cobra, too.

That past spring, Jeff had told me his uncle had an original Cobra, and I was totally floored. He had restored it from a used one he bought in New York, where he lives. I had never seen the car, but Jeff told me it was a red one.

"The kind you like," he had said.

People don't really talk to me much in school or notice me, not even adults. My mother says it's because I don't "get out there." But Jeff and I had been friends for a long time. We never really said much to each other, but we did stuff almost every day. I always got his jokes, and I think he liked that. I remember feeling it was so cool that he knew I liked red Cobras.

Jeff had said his uncle sometimes brought it up to his house, and he got to ride in it. But I didn't get why I had never seen the car.

"I've never even seen your uncle," I said.

Jeff was flipping through a stack of comics he had taken down from a shelf. He chose one and slumped in a chair with it. He didn't say anything.

"I don't have an uncle," I went on. "I don't get the whole uncle thing. It's just me and my parents. Neither of them had sisters or brothers." He still didn't say anything, so I just kept on babbling. "Uncles always seem like these guys who get to have all the cool stuff fathers never get to have."

Finally, he dropped his comic into his lap and looked at me. "Yeah, well, my Uncle Chuck has a Cobra. And he's coming over next weekend."

I think my heart thumped really loudly. "Saturday? Next Saturday?"

He shook his head. "No, the weekend after. The ninth I think my mother said. Maybe we'll drive over to your house in the car." He pushed the comic book off his lap.

"Really?"

He got up. "My mom said she got me two Avengers and a Spawn, the one where he bites through to another world. But she hid them because I yelled at her. Let's find them. I need to get all the school junk out of my head."

"Really? You mean it about the car? The Cobra? You'll come over and we can ride around in it?"

"Sure. Let's check her bedroom."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Firegirl by Tony Abbott Copyright © 2006 by Tony Abbott. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Tony Abbott is the author of over sixty books for young readers, including the extremely popular Secrets of Droon series, which is available on audio from Listening Library. He has been a bookseller and librarian, and currently lives in Connecticut with his wife and two daughters.

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Firegirl 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 107 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
For Tom Bender, seventh grade isn't all that different from the grades that came before. He still attends a private Catholic school, St. Catherine's. He's still pretty much best friends with Jeff Hicks. He still loves the Cobra, a sports car that he spends plenty of time dreaming about. The few things that are different this year? He has great teacher, Mrs. Tracy. Jeff's uncle actually owns a Cobra, and Jeff has promised Tom a ride in it. He's in love with Courtney Zisky, a girl he fantasizes about saving from make-believe situations on a daily basis. Oh, and Jessica Feeney shows up in his classroom.

The day starts out regular enough. Morning prayers, the announcement of a class election, and the impending arrival of a new girl in their class. And then things change more than anyone could have ever imagined, because Mrs. Tracy informs her students that Jessica, the new girl, is unlike anyone they've ever met before. Jessica was burned in a fire, a terrible, horrible tragedy, and she looks different than anyone these kids have ever seen. Tom has only a short time to think about what this means before she's there, the Firegirl, hideously disfigured yet someone how still wholly alive.

What follows in the few short weeks that Jessica Feeney is in his class has a life-changing impact on Tom's life. His friend's jokes and elaborate stories they've made up for how Jessica got burned no longer seem funny. His daydreams keeping slipping Courtney out and Jessica in. And during the class election, where Tom wanted to nominate Courtney so she'd know how he felt about her, he's unable to say anything at all. He takes Jessica her homework during one of her many school absences, and learns the truth behind how she was burned, and he cries because she's just a kid like he himself is. Even a ride in the Cobra, which Tom has been dreaming about for years, is pushed by the wayside.

FIREGIRL is the story of being different, of change, and of acceptance. There are no real happily-ever-afters in this book. Jessica isn't miraculously healed, Tom doesn't morph into a superhero or righter of all wrongs, and the students in Mrs. Tracy's class don't all learn that you can accept people who are different. Instead, this is the story of individual strength, of the internal struggle to balance what you know is right with what is wrong. A very inspiring story, indeed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so effectionet. Is beatifully written. This book was a great book and it showed how different people can become friends. This book also shows how to choose friends and how to know if they are truly devoted to your friendship. This book is aslo about how a young girl can chage/put a deal of an impact on a boys life forever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FIREGIRL is a quick read. It has a great moral and realistic and entertaining characters. The characters are the best part of the book because they are easy to relate to and are very entertaining. My favortite type of book is a book like this, for these reasons: Good characters, simple and quick, well written and good realistic fiction. However, although it was a good, simple book, I thought the plot and conflicts were very hard to remember only because I remember the book as a whole, as 1 peice. The book as a whole was intresting and well written, however the plot was forgettable. Also good themes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the book when I was in the 4th grade and I remember crying like 5times. The beginning was kind of a drag, maybe a little boring. But overall I loved the book and was deeply influenced by it, it was a sad book in the end(in my point of veiw). I would definately re-read this book.
Emily Lenard More than 1 year ago
I dont judge a book by its cover, but the cover looks truly amazing, and the story? Remarkable! a great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much I just had to read it again. It is a book about friendship, trust, and not telling a book by it's cover ( well in this case Jessica Feeney) You will love thi book very much
Guest More than 1 year ago
It dosent matter whats on the outside its whats on the inside. So NEVER talk about someone because of the way they look are what the might ware it really dosent matter be nice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was good, but it was kind of boring. This is a good book if you want a quick easy read (great for a book report). The plot was never really engaging, but i could relate to the characters easily. The book contains a wonderful message that we could all learn from.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For Tom Bender, seventh grade isn't all that different from the grades that came before. He still attends a private Catholic school, St. Catherine's. He's still pretty much best friends with Jeff Hicks. He still loves the Cobra, a sports car that he spends plenty of time dreaming about. The few things that are different this year? He has great teacher, Mrs. Tracy. Jeff's uncle actually owns a Cobra, and Jeff has promised Tom a ride in it. He's in love with Courtney Zisky, a girl he fantasizes about saving from make-believe situations on a daily basis. Oh, and Jessica Feeney shows up in his classroom. The day starts out regular enough. Morning prayers, the announcement of a class election, and the impending arrival of a new girl in their class. And then things change more than anyone could have ever imagined, because Mrs. Tracy informs her students that Jessica, the new girl, is unlike anyone they've ever met before. Jessica was burned in a fire, a terrible, horrible tragedy, and she looks different than anyone these kids have ever seen. Tom has only a short time to think about what this means before she's there, the Firegirl, hideously disfigured yet someone how still wholly alive. What follows in the few short weeks that Jessica Feeney is in his class has a life-changing impact on Tom's life. His friend's jokes and elaborate stories they've made up for how Jessica got burned no longer seem funny. His daydreams keeping slipping Courtney out and Jessica in. And during the class election, where Tom wanted to nominate Courtney so she'd know how he felt about her, he's unable to say anything at all. He takes Jessica her homework during one of her many school absences, and learns the truth behind how she was burned, and he cries because she's just a kid like he himself is. Even a ride in the Cobra, which Tom has been dreaming about for years, is pushed by the wayside. FIREGIRL is the story of being different, of change, and of acceptance. There are no real happily-ever-afters in this book. Jessica isn't miraculously healed, Tom doesn't morph into a superhero or righter of all wrongs, and the students in Mrs. Tracy's class don't all learn that you can accept people who are different. Instead, this is the story of individual strength, of the internal struggle to balance what you know is right with what is wrong. A very inspiring story, indeed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was ok, it got me sad in sevral parts esepailly the ending. I will not be a spoiler but i thought the ending was terrible and it ruined the whole book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tom huggs her because Jessica moves away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much it was super good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book i had a lot of emotions though
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like this book it is really good book. My summer reading book i had to read this book and I thought that it was goung to be boring but i found it really intresting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story with a great message.  My fifth grade special education student that hates to read, enjoyed this book very much.  It had short chapters and was perfect for his interactive book report!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it for my class it was sad what happened to Jessica Feeney's face. Loved it though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I ordered the book and can't wait to read it! It sounds interesting. Poor Jessica.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tom knows the truh about the truth about the fire all those meaners make things up to make themselves feel important .........they can't handle the truth p.s let's go set the batmoblie on fire lolololol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Really good book about a girl that had burns all over her body and that is all i have to say about the fire girl with burns alll over her body and there is a movie and i will see the movie :) ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think its a good book with an amazing story. It seemed a bit slow to me and some things were a little odd but thats just how the character thinks! Really great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago