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Draper, Sharon M.
New York : Atheneum, 1997.
ISBN 068980699X

(4 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

The book Forged By Fire, by Sharon is about a boy named Gerald. As a young boy his mother leaves him alone; he starts a fire and almost dies.  His mother is immediately arrested for child abandonment and sent to prison.  Gerald's Aunt Queen takes him in and raises him by herself.  He quickly adapts to her lifestyle.  After his life finally gets back on track, his mother calls and prepares to visit. Gerald recalls all the tragic memories of his life.   His mother insists he come and live with her, and tells them no.  His Aunt Queen assures him that he does not have to go anywhere if he doesn't want too.  Then tragedy strikes! Aunt Queen dies of a sudden heart  attack.  He is forced to move in with his mother, her boyfriend, and his baby sister, Angel. Jordan, his mother's boyfriend, is a very abusive parent. He hits Gerald and Angel constantly.  Gerald founds out that Jordan sexually harasses his little sister.  He can't handle it and tells  the police about Jordan.  Jordan is arrested and sent to jail for five years.  After Jordan gets out, he swears he has changed and will not act at all like he had before.  Gerald never trusts him though; no one does. However, one day Gerald isn't at home, and Jordan tries to molest Angel again. Somehow a fire starts in the apartment...  (Kimberly Rector,

Booktalk #2

When we first meet Gerald, he is three years old.  He lives w/his mom who does drugs and often leaves him by himself.  On one occasion when left alone, he sets fire to their apartment.  He gets out alive, but this changes the course of his life.  His mother is sent to prison for child abandonment, Gerald goes to live with his Aunt Queen.  For six years, he has a life where he is loved and cared for.  Just as he is starting to heal and feel like a normal kid with a normal life, his mother shows up again.  He finds out that she's been out of jail for two years, has gotten married and now has a daughter.  Gerald has a sister!  Her name is Angel.  From that point forward, Gerald’s life becomes one of one battle after another.  His stepfather is physically abusive to all of them, mentally and verbally abusive towards Gerald’s mother and he suspects that he is sexually abusing Angel.  Gerald takes it upon himself to be her protector, since their mother can't accept the thought that the man she loves and needs so badly would do such a thing.  When something is Forged by Fire that refers to the process of allowing fire to reshape or to refine it.  The heat from the fire is so hot that it makes the product pliable so that it can be formed into the shape it’s meant to be.  This book by Sharon Draper begins with a fire and ends with a fire.  In between, we watch Gerald and Angel deal with abuse, the affects of drug addiction, betrayal by their mother and the death of a friend.  But, you also see how the “fires” in their life are forging them into something strong and beautiful.  Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper  (Virginia Wright,, Tuscarawas County Public Library, New Philadelphia, OH)

Booktalk #3

Gerald's life changes for the worse when his aunt dies. She had been taking care of him while his drug-addicted mother was in prison. Now his mother is out of prison and he has to go live with her, her husband and their child named Angel. Gerald fights to protect Angel when he finds out his stepfather is abusing her. He thought they were safe when his stepfather was sent to prison. But later he is released. To protect Angel, Gerald will have to be powerful enough to oppose his stepfather and overcome his childhood fear of fire.  (Gayle Jernigan Rogers, St. Jude High School Library, Montgomery, Alabama)

Booktalk #4

After almost killed in a house fire while home alone, Gerald is happily separated from his mother and raised by his loving Aunt Queen.  However, on his 8th birthday, his abusive mother is forced back into his life, along with an even more abusive stepfather.  Yet, the meeting of a lovely little sister named Angel softens the reentrance to his dysfunctional family.  After losing the love of his favorite aunt in a disaster, Gerald is forced to cope with his hatred for Jordan, his stepfather, and the rocky acceptance of his mother.  The only bright spot in Gerald's life is Angel, whom he is always protecting from Jordan's wrath.
As he grows up, Gerald becomes a part of the Hazelwood High School basketball team, and deals with an irresponsible mother who can't see Jordan's faults.  But, with help from his sister Angel and his friends, it appears that Gerald can survive.  However, Gerald and Angel must deal with a catastrophe as close friends are taken, old foes faced, and old wounds reopened. In the end, it is up to Gerald to stand up to his evil stepfather once and for all in a "blazing confrontation".  In this heart-warming, yet heart-shattering realistic fiction novel, the story is told of an aspiring young man who must look beyond the tragedies befalling him and quickly sprout into a man to protect his loved ones and himself.  (Austen, student)

SUBJECTS:     Child abuse -- Fiction.
                        Stepfamilies -- Fiction.
                        Brothers and sisters -- Fiction.
                        African Americans -- Fiction.


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