In Tony Abbott’s young adult novel, Firegirl, there is both internal and external conflict or problems. Jessica, a young girl who is badly burned in a car fire, faces many medical procedures, location moves for treatment, but most of all, she faces the lack of acceptance for her medical condition by classmates. As she moves from school to school to be near treatment hospitals, she faces scrutiny from the other students. The Catholic school that she enters for this school year is no different. Students, especially Jeff, refuse to hold her hand or sit near her during classroom activities. This is trying for many of her classmates as they struggle to decide how to deal with the situation while they conjure up stories about what happened in the fire.
One character, Tom, experiences much inner conflict as he deals with situations that arise. He realizes that his best friend, Jeff, is not dealing with Jessica in an acceptable manner and it bothers him deeply. Tom lives near Jessica. The teacher asks him to bring homework to her after she misses a number of days. He has to decide whether to spend the afternoon with his friend Jeff or to deliver the homework. He makes the right choice in delivering the homework and learns the truth about the fire. He remains conflicted because the other students are less accepting than he is. He and Jessica have a quiet friendship and when she announces that she will be moving again for more treatment, he finds himself actually feeling sad knowing that he will miss her and that he will never see his best friend in the same way.