Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Firegirl Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
A disfigured classmate teaches stirring lessons.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 25 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

A sometimes heart squeezing look at the dynamics of accepting someone who is different than you. Though in this variation of the theme, the difference is a horrible physical disfigurement.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the children don't know how to act around a child with severe disfigurement, and they resent her and spread false rumors about her. The main character struggles with doing what is right.


A child suffers serious burns in a car accident.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a sad story about a boy struggling to deal with a classmate who was severely disfigured in a horrible accident. The description isn't graphic, but it is disturbing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3, 5, and 9-year-old Written byChristine V. August 16, 2018
Adult Written bykonnork123 January 18, 2012

Terrible story

this book is TERRIBLE DON`T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Teen, 14 years old Written byShorty15 June 6, 2019

Touching Story

This is a great book. I cried after I finished. This would be a great book for a class to read. Younger kids could read it, but it wouldn't make sense to t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKdrewk May 5, 2016

Amazing book with an amazing lesson!

What a beautiful, heartwarming story! I found the characters so well-developed, and it portrayed such an amazing life lesson! Tom, the protagonist, was such a s... Continue reading

What's the story?

Tom is a sweaty, overweight kid at a Catholic school. His best friend is Jeff, who is angry about his parents' divorce and his dad's disinterest. Tom has a crush on pretty, popular Courtney, and dreams of rescuing her as a superhero. An ordinary kid in an ordinary life.

Then his class gets a new student, Jessica, who has been severely disfigured in a fire, and who is in town for skin grafts at the hospital. None of the children know how to deal with her, and Jeff is angry about her mere existence. Wild rumors about her circulate around the school. But Tom gradually establishes a tentative relationship with her during the short time she is in school, a few weeks that change everything.

Is it any good?

If effort toward becoming a better person, coupled with introspective self-examination and criticism, are the hallmarks of adulthood, then this gentle, touching novel is a true coming-of-age story.

Though the title is FIREGIRL, this poignant little book isn't about Jessica, the disfigured burn victim. It's about Tom, and how he tries to deal with her presence in his class and neighborhood, and how doing so changes everything in his life. It's a story in which, as Tom himself says as narrator, "It wasn't much, really, the whole Jessica Feeney thing. If you look at it, nothing much happened." In terms of physical events, or plot, he's right. What happens is inside him, and that's what author Tony Abbott delicately chronicles.

Tom is nothing special, just a good kid trying to do his best. And that seems to be the real point -- that goodness is a struggle, and even with the best will in the world it's hard to be sure we've done all we can, or should, do. In trying to be a person, Tom doesn't end up miserable or triumphant, or guilty or satisfied -- he's just changed, in ways that will, no doubt, continue to resonate through his life. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how people act around those who are disabled or disfigured.

  • Why are we so uncomfortable?

  • How should we act?

  • How would you want people to act around you if you were disabled or disfigured?

Book details

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