Stormcloud's Reviews > Firegirl

Firegirl by Tony Abbott
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Mar 23, 11


I distinctly remember pulling this book off the shelf. I remember how I felt, looking at its cover. I remember my slight misgivings. I knew exactly what I was reading: about a girl disfigured by a serious accident, a very serious topic I wasn't sure I was ready to read, but ultimately I threw my misgivings out the window, and checked out the book from the library at the age of around fourteen. This review shifts often between what I saw as a girl and how I analyze these memories as an adult. The cover and basic description struck a chord inside me--and so did the silly author, with his graying beard and skinny frame (this is all from memory of a black-and-white photograph, so I hope I'm not too off!) I don't remember why I decided to read it when I normally picked happy-go-lucky topics, but I think all children have questions about accidents, and these questions were much more mature than I felt grownups gave me credit for. I needed a honest-to-goodness account of something like that--without too many grisly details like real life accounts would give me. I needed something watered down. Like a story. Something given compassionately and without judgement--boy am I glad I picked up Firegirl! I knew even then that I could be in for a disappointing ride--books like these usually ended up with me disappointed--so I was not only pleasantly surprised by how true Firegirl felt to me personally (I can't speak for everybody here, but it's true for ME), I was astonished, amazed. I still am. What Firegirl was about was pretty easy to figure out, too, I remember. The half-burned paper cut-out on the cover signified that. Art has a way of connecting. Fire, red, paper cutouts holding hands--but for some reason, one is burned, and can't move very much, and one boy isn't holding the burned girl's hand. But one boy is, and that's the boy whose eyes the story is told from. I loved this book, and I still cannot look at it or think of it without great emotion. I still don't think I understand fully exactly how it affected me--like I said, I was young--but I know it was in a good way. I've yet to experience something bad for which Firegirl was to blame. There's no overt moral blaring in your ears from some grownup who thinks they know how your brain ticks (this is me speaking like a kid again). The story isn't purposely simplified to the point of being Point A, Point B, Point C. It's realistically paced, like a memory almost itself. It's a curious journey through one boy's mind about how people react to certain things, and whether or not it's okay for them (and himself) to react in those ways. People learn by example--children are no different. I really needed this book. Thank you, Mr. Abbott, for writing a book that, while definitely not perfect in itself, I'm sure (because nothing is), was perfect for me, and was there for me at a perfect time. I found Tom very annoying and a little more immature than my brothers--which means he felt very realistic to me. I felt I was reading about a boy I could have met down the street or at church. Tom seemed real. Even now I think about the book and realize in shock that many of my most passionate beliefs about humanity and kindness are reflected in it. I am continuously astounded by this simple memory, of when I read Firegirl, a long time ago. And I keep telling myself that I really, really, REALLY, need to pick it up again, but I guess I'm afraid it's one of those moments that you can't relive in this life.

One thing's for certain, though. How Firegirl affected me then, and how it will affect me now, are two completely separate, different things. And as long as that effect isn't negative (and I've no doubt this affect will be positive), that's usually the sign of a very good, deep book.
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