powered by centersite dot net
Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
100 Things Guys Need to Know3 NBS of Julian DrewA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAfterAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAmelia RulesAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsArtemis FowlAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBeyond Diversity DayBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBill HensonBipolar DisordersBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoyBoysBrandedBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingCan't Eat, Won't EatCatalystChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinContentious IssuesCrackedCutDancing in My NuddypantsDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDoing ItDoing SchoolDying to Be ThinEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismElijah's CupEllison the ElephantEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEvery Girl Tells a StoryFast GirlsFeather BoyFiregirlForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillGeography ClubGeorgia Under WaterGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlsourceGirlWiseGLBTQGood GirlsGoodbye RuneGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGrowing Up GirlHandbook for BoysHealing ADDHeartbeatHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHollow KidsHow Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHug MeIntrusive ParentingIt's Me!It's Perfectly NormalJake RileyJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKeeping the MoonKilling MonstersKim: Empty InsideKnocked Out by My Nunga-NungasLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLearning About School ViolenceLeo the Lightning BugLet Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLittle ChicagoLord of the FliesLoserLove and SexLove That DogManicMastering Anger and AggressionMind FieldsMiss American PieMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MonsterMore Than a LabelMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNo Two AlikeNot Much Just Chillin'Odd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming School AnxietyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeriod PiecesPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellPretty in PunkPrincess in the SpotlightProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Psychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsRaising a Self-StarterRaising BlazeRaising Resilient ChildrenReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRineke DijkstraRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRunning on RitalinSay YesSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceShooterShort PeopleShould I Medicate My Child?Skin GameSmackSmashedStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStoner & SpazStop Arguing with Your KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrong, Smart, & BoldStudent DepressionSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTargeting AutismTeaching Problems and the Problems of TeachingTeen Angst? NaaahThat SummerThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Arctic IncidentThe Bipolar ChildThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Carnivorous CarnivalThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Eternity CubeThe Explosive ChildThe Field of the DogsThe First IdeaThe Identity TrapThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little TernThe Mean Girl MotiveThe Men They Will BecomeThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Nurture AssumptionThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Order of the Poison OakThe Other ParentThe Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Shared HeartThe Spider and the BeeThe StepsThe Thought that CountsThe Unhappy ChildThe Vile VillageThe Whole ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreacherous LoveTrue BelieverTwistedUnhappy TeenagersWay to Be!We're Not MonstersWhat about the KidsWhat Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhere The Kissing Never StopsWhose America?Why Are You So Sad?WinnicottWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!You Hear MeYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)
Child Development Theory: Adolescence (12-24)

by Tony Abbott
Listening Library, 2007
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Sep 4th 2007

Firegirl

Tom is in seventh grade of Catholic School in Connecticut.  He's a little overweight and he doesn't talk much in class.  His best friend is Jeff, whose parents got divorced a couple of years ago.  Jeff has to go to New York City now to stay with his father and his father's girlfriend in a tiny apartment.  Jeff's mother is a nurse who works long hours.  His parents fight over money, and his father says that Jeff would be better off in a public school.  Jeff is bitter and often complains about his parents.  Tom feels bad for him, but does not know what to say.

One day a new girl arrives in class.  Jessica has burns all over her body, and she is undergoing long term medical treatment to improve her health and to make her look more normal.  The children find it difficult to look at Jessica, let along talk to her.  No one says what caused her disfigurement, so they start inventing stories.  One day at morning prayers, when everyone is meant to hold the hand of the person next to them, Jeff refuses to hold Jessica's hand, but Tom does.  When Tom is alone with Jeff, Jeff makes mean comments about Jessica and says he would prefer to be dead than live looking like her.  Tom is really uncomfortable with Jeff's words, but he does not want to take a stand to defend her.

Jessica is staying at a house close to Tom's, and when Jessica leaves school early leaving her belongings, a teacher asks Tom to take the homework to her.  So he visits Jessica's home, and ends up talking not just to her but also her father.  He learns about the accident that caused Jessica's burns, and starts to understand her a little more.  This makes it more difficult for him to listen to Jeff go on about how gross she looks and how difficult it is for him to have to look at her.  Tom's relationship with Jeff deteriorates, although they never completely stop being friends.

When after a couple of weeks, Jessica says that her is leaving town because the medical treatment they came for is not working, Tom finds all his feelings rising to the surface.  He wishes he had done more to be friendly to her and he feels ashamed for not helping her more.  Yet, as she points out, he talked to her more than anyone else in their class.  Although he does not quite understand it, it seems clear that Jessica's very visible damage has shaken Tom, making him understand how fragile life is and how easy it is to miss opportunities to help others, and thus help himself.  Jessica only stays at the school for a couple of weeks, but his encounter with her really makes a difference to him. 

Firegirl is a compelling story of a boy's emotional and moral development.  We see how he starts to move on from connecting to others in unrealistic fantasies of him having superhero abilities to a better appreciation of how to relate to his peers.  The many subtle details make the story believable.  The class teacher is also very uncomfortable in talking to the children about Jessica, but she is very enthusiastic about the project of an election of a class president.  Tom does not make a total transformation from a shy boy to an outgoing do-gooder, but instead grows a little bit in a positive way.  The popular girl Courtney notices Tom for the first time because of his kindness to Jessica, but she still does not want to be his girlfriend.  Tom starts to understand that Jeff is a bit of a jerk, but he still finds him funny.  All of this makes Firegirl a surprisingly powerful novel for young people.

The reading of the unabridged audiobook by Sean Kenin is done well.  Kenin manages to convey Tom's enthusiasm for bright red Cobra cars, and is able to express Tom's superhero fantasies without making them sound silly.  He also brings out the cruelty of the children's treatment of people different from themselves without making the reader hate all the characters.  Lasting less than three hours, the audiobook is a strong performance.

 

© 2007 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.