Forged By Fire
|Author:||Sharon M. Draper|
Will Gerald find the courage to stand up to his stepfather?
When his loving aunt dies, Gerald suddenly is thrust into a new home filled with anger and abuse. A brutal stepfather with a flaming temper and an evil secret makes Gerald miserable, and the only light in his grim life is Angel, his young stepsister. Gerald and Angel grow close as he strives to protect her from Jordan, his abusive stepfather, and from their substance-addicted mother. But Gerald learns, painfully, that his post can't be extinguished, and that he must be strong enough to face Jordan in a final confrontation, once and for all....
Teenage Gerald, who has spent years protecting his fragile step-sister from their abusive father, faces the prospect of one final confrontation before the problem can be solved.
Sharon Draper has indeed forged a fiery name for herself in the field of young adult literature - that of a courageous writer, willing to tackle tough, real-life problems while developing honorable, streetwise role models for troubled teens. Her previous novel, Tears of the Tiger, garnered much acclaim and became the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King Genesis Award. In this second novel, Draper weaves in characters from Tears - most significantly Gerald Nickleby, a young basketball player who discovers his innate strength and determination while protecting his stepsister's safety and his mother's honor.
Unfortunately, Draper's strengths (her desire to delve into tough social issues, such as child abuse, drug addiction, incest, bulimia, and domestic violence) become this book's weakness as the story line teeters on implausible. For example, in less than 20 pages Gerald faces the following: the death of a close friend (a passenger in a car that was driven by a drunk teammate); the discovery of his drunk, evil stepfather trying to sexually assault his younger stepsister; a brutal attack by his stepfather; and a raging apartment fire that threatens to kill them all. Nonetheless, Draper creates believable and important heroes for teenage boys--those who are forged from adversity, only to burn more brightly and courageous. (Ages 12 and older) - Gail Hudson