Firegirl is the story of what happened in one six grade classroom over a period of three weeks. All of the regular suspects are in place; popular kids, quiet kids, class clown, teachers pet, and it is the beginning of the school year. The main character Tom, sums it up this way in the opening paragraphs:
"It wasn't much, really, the whole Jessica Feeney thing. If you look at it, nothing much happened. She was a girl who came into my class after the beginning of the year and was only there for a couple of weeks or so. Stuff did get a little crazy for a while, but it didn't last long, and I think it was mostly in my head anyway. Then she wasn't there anymore." - Firegirl, p.1
Tom does sum up the book in a paragraph. But what is left unsaid is how each child in class reacts to the circumstance. Jessica is a burn victim attending class while undergoing therapy at a local hospital. After several days' worth of rampant speculation and gossip, we learn she was in the car with her mother one afternoon; her mother left the car running while doing an errand and an elderly man hit their car, causing it to burst into flames. Tony Abbott does a masterful job of creating believable reactions from the students in class, the administration and teachers, Tom and his family, and Jessica's family.
Read this book.