by Tony Abbott

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Firegirl is a children's novel by prolific children's author Tony Abbott. First published in 2008, it focuses on the effect of the "firegirl" of the title on the novel's narrator, Tom Bender. 

Tom is in the seventh grade at St. Catherine’s School and describes himself as a "sweaty fat kid". He is socially awkward and has only one real friend, Jeff, who is struggling with having been abandoned by his father. Tom also has a crush on the beautiful, popular Courtney, who does not reciprocate his interest in her.

Tom's teacher, Mrs. Tracey, announces that Jessica will be joining their class because her family has moved to the town to be close to a hospital which can treat her burns. As she joins the class and is seated between Tom and Jeff, her new classmates are horrified by the burns that disfigure her and begin gossiping about her.

Although Tom is equally horrified by Jessica's appearance, he is uncomfortable with his own instinctive revulsion, he gradually makes friends with Jessica, showing solidarity with a fellow outcast. An incident where he brings her homework after she had to miss school solidifies their friendship and helps Tom grow up in his understanding of the world and other people. 

Tom downplays the external events he is narrating by introducing them with the statement:

On the outside it doesn't look like very much happened. A burned girl was in my class for a while. Once I brought her some homework. In class she said my name. Then she was gone. That's pretty much all that happened.

As readers though, we come to realize that this fleeting contact had a transformational effect on Tom.

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