Fireflies in December by Jennifer Elen ValentAdolescent and Up Fiction
This is a beautifully written and haunting story of the pains of growing up and doing the right thing when it seems as if all the adults, your supposed role models, are doing the wrong things. Really wrong things.
Jessilynn Lassiter's 13th birthday party should have been a moment of fun in her life, full of new beginnings, but instead ushers in a season of heartache and hatred. When her BFF Gemma loses her parents in a house fire, the Lassiters take her into their home. They knew it might raise some eyebrows. After all, Gemma is black and the year is 1932--well before the Civil Rights act comes into being. The Lassiters are not prepared for the Ku Klux Klan involvement and a barrage of hate crimes with fatal consequences. In addition to all that, Jessilyn is having trouble just turning into a young woman--first crushes and new dresses and high heels are just as difficult to maneuver at that age as social injustice. At least, it seems that way to Jessilyn. The setting is my favorite--full of oozy Southern drawls and heat just dripping off the page.
This one won the 2010 Christy Award and it is well-deserved! This book had a very To Kill a Mockingbird feel to it (one of my favorite books of all time). It is a coming of age story for any age.