Molly's Fire

Common Sense Media says

A quirky story with hidden riches.

Age(i)

2
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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A part-Asian child is repeatedly taunted as "the Jap."

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language

Infrequent, mild.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that a half-Asian girl is taunted by classmates as "the Jap" in this story set in 1944. The protagonist is told her pilot father was shot down and killed, but she believes he is still alive.

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What's the story?

It's August 1944 in the small town of Keenan, Maine, when Molly Fowler's mother receives a telegram saying that her husband, a pilot, has been shot down over Holland and is presumed dead. Molly fiercely refuses to believe her father is dead and begins looking everywhere for signs that he is alive.

While reconstructing a broken stained glass window as a gift to her father, she befriends the town's rich kid, Peter Birmingham. A feeling of kinship with an eccentric widow, Mrs. Larkin, helps Molly form a friendship with Jane, Mrs. Larkin's half-Asian granddaughter, whom classmates torment as \"Jane the Jap.\"

Peter and Jane support Molly's campaign to prove that her father is alive, which propels them into a dangerous and sobering adventure at the local POW camp. But even her strange and loyal vigil can't prepare Molly for the spine-tingling truth about her father.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The first half of this book could lead readers to think that Molly Fowler is one weird girl. Compelled to prove that her father is alive, she does strange things, such as burying her funeral dress at his empty gravesite. The pace is slow as Janet Carey maneuvers the relationships into place, but the second half makes up for these flaws.

Carey is a talented writer who could have used a firmer editorial hand. Tenses are mixed, descriptive images pop up like verbal tics, and the facts get confused. One 12-year-old reader found the writing too cold: "She tries to make it sad, but it's just not." But there are enough exciting discoveries here to make Carey a writer to watch.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the book's setting. Find examples of the war's influence on everyday life and on relationships in Molly's community.

Book details

Author:Janet Lee Carey
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:May 1, 2000
Number of pages:196

This review of Molly's Fire was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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