Fire in the Heart
About the Book
When a mysterious letter about her mother’s death appears in Molly O’Connor’s mailbox, she begins a search that turns her family upside down. Fighting her father’s disapproval, Molly enlists the help of her stepmother and an older cousin known as “Crazy Sadie.” As Molly gathers clues surrounding her mother’s long-ago disappearance, she uncovers a family secret that explains her father’s silence. Determined to know the truth, Molly’s search leads her to California, and back in time to a gold rush ancestor.
Awards and Distinctions
ALA Best Young Adult Novel
Missouri’s Mark Twain List, 1992
“An engrossing story of how the need to satisfy curiosity about the past can splinter a family.” (School Library Journal, starred review)
Behind the Book
FAQ: What inspired you to write this story?
Fire in the Heart and West Against the Wind began as one book, about a girl who finds a pioneer diary in her attic. I wrote the diary first, and it turned into the novel West Against the Wind. After I finished that book, I still wanted to write the other story, of a modern girl who had a pioneer ancestor. I didn’t plan it as a mystery at first. That idea came to me in a dream, when I was halfway through the book. I had to rewrite the whole story, adding clues and new characters to fit my plot.
FAQ: Where is Griswold, Vermont?
Griswold is an imaginary town in central Vermont. It is the setting for my two other YA novels which are companions to Fire in the Heart, Twelve Days in August, and Blue Coyote. My ancestors come from this area of Vermont. One was a Pequot Indian healer and midwife named Margery Dogerill. She married a man named Joseph Griswold. I decided to name my imaginary town after them. My novel, Where the Great Hawk Flies, is based on my ancestor’s story. It takes place in the 1780s, in the early days of the town. It is fun to create an imaginary place. I have even drawn maps of the roads and rivers there! Although it is invented, Griswold seems like a real town in my mind, just as my characters often seem real, too.