For me, there is nothing better than a good read that takes place in the south. This might be largely due to the fact I love the way the characters can have that sorta free flowing way of expressing "the way they see it." Fireflies in December, by Jennifer Erin Valent, is one of those books. This was Valent's first novel, and left me with no doubt that the author has a gift for telling a good story. In fact, it was the 2007 winner of the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and the 2010 Christy Award winner.
It is 1932, it is the south, and we meet Jessilyn, age 13. It is her birthday and a typical hot Virginia summer day. We meet Gemma, Jessilyn's best friend. The story evolves when Gemma loses her parents in a fire and Jessilyn's father and mother kindly take Gemma in to live with them as their own daughter. But Gemma is black and this is the south. Because prejudice is well alive and thriving, it doesn't take long for violence and the Ku Klux Klan to enter in, causing loyalties to be tested and forcing Jessilyn to come of age in the face of hatred and evil. Jessilyn's father, a quiet man of faith, is a strong example to his daughter how to be "Fireflies in December!"