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Tom Bender's homeroom teacher at St. Catherine's School tries to prepare him and his fellow classmates for the addition of a special student. No amount of explanation can prepare them for the shocking appearance of Jessica Feeney, a burn victim who has moved to their town to receive special medical attention. Her face looks like a mask, her hands and arms are disfigured, and thick stockings cover her burned legs. Most of the children in the class can't even bring themselves to look at her, much less talk to her. The teacher seats Jessica between Tom and his best friend Jeff. While Jeff slides his desk far away from Jessica, Tom does his best to act normally around her even though inside he's terrified.

Before Jessica entered Tom's class, his biggest concerns in life were trying to impress Courtney Zisky and getting to take a ride in Jeff's uncle's Cobra. Jeff's homeroom class learned that they will have a class election for President just minutes before Jessica's arrival. Through the election process the reader learns more about the students in Tom's class. Tom has no intention of running for President, but he plans to nominate Courtney to get her attention. Of course no one is thinking about nominating Jessica.

Shortly after Jessica's arrival, rumors begin to circulate about how she was burned in a fire. The rumors get wilder and more far-fetched every day. Tom learns the truth about Jessica when the teacher asks him to deliver homework to her one day after school. He begins a tentative friendship with her that changes his outlook on life.

This powerful, emotional novel told in first person will touch readers' hearts. Some situations come only once in a person's lifetime, but they are enough to change that individual forever. Don't miss the opportunity to be moved by FIREGIRL.

Reviewed by Renee Kirchner on June 1, 2007

by Tony Abbott

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2007
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316011703
  • ISBN-13: 9780316011709