The second book in the Hazelwood High Trilogy, Forged by Fire, is not as emotionally driven as the first book, but the way the story is told, allows for different emotions, other than grief to surface. I didn’t get as emotional as I did in the first book, but it does drum up emotions in various areas. For me, it was mostly towards the end.
*Summary: 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 younger stepsister. Gerald and Angel grow close as he strives to protect there from Jordan, his abusive stepfather, and from their substance-addicted mother. But Gerald learns, painfully, that his past can’t be extinguished, and that he must be strong enough to face Jordan in a final confrontation, once and for all…
Characters. The main character is Gerald and it’s mostly his story. We see the world through his eyes, from when he’s a child to him being a seventeen year old young man. His young stepsister Angel can be considered the second leading character as well. Outside of them, there are three supporting characters.
Gerald Nickelby. When we first meet Gerald he’s a three year old and we’re introduced right away to his story. He lives with his single mother, Monique who is a drug addict and neglectful. His mother leaves him alone one night and he accidentally sets fire to the apartment, she doesn’t return until after he’s in the hospital. Gerald ends up living with his Aunt Queen, who raises him till he’s 9. With Aunt Queen, he learns how to live his life and be a child without worrying when his mother will return. When his mother reenters his life, he meets Angel, his younger sister and he immediately takes to her. He’s protective of her, and teaches her how to be brave. Unfortunately, Aunt Queen dies and Gerald has to live with his mother and her new husband and at such a young age, Gerald has to mature. He’s physically abused by Jordan but he remains strong for himself and mostly for Angel. Throughout the novel, even after Jordan is jailed and returns… Gerald remains strong for his family even if he feels like ehe can’t protect the women in his life. It’s easy to tell, even later in the novel, when he’s a teenager, that he still yearns for the love of his mother.
Angel Sparks. She starts off as a seven year old, who is physically and sexually abused by Jordan making her a shy and meek child. When she meets Gerald, she immediately takes to him and when he moves in with them, she views him as her protector. As she gets older, she has a passion for dance and is described to be very graceful and pretty. When Jordan comes back into their lives, she’s obviously afraid but tries to be hopeful, that he truly loves their mother, that he’s changed and he just wants to be in the family.
Jordan Sparks. Very much the villain of the story, he sparks fear into his entire family. He’s described as a big man and he physically abuses his family as well as sexually abusing Angel. His character is very much one dimensional as nothing changes with him even if he pretends to be. He’s meant to be scary, imposing and intimidating.
Monique Sparks. Gerald and Angel’s mother, she starts off being neglectful to Gerald. She is drug addict and neglectful as she leaves him home alone often. When he’s injured in the fire, she’s jailed. Later she returns with the hopes of him living with her now that she’s changed and for the most part, it does seem like she’s doing much better than before. At first, she refuses to acknowledge Jordan’s abusive nature and is very upset when the kids manage to get him arrested and jailed. But without him, they all do much better.