Siria was born on New Year’s Day and named for the star Sirius, which shines brightest in the winter.
Almost 12, she only vaguely remembers her mom, who died when she was little, but she cherishes the astronomy book that belonged to her. She believes that her mother entrusted her with her father’s well-being. Pop is a firefighter and the only family she has, and she is determined to keep him safe. She is frightened and feisty, headstrong and calculating. She sneaks out at night to follow the sirens and keep vigil with him and his team. A series of suspicious fires in her city neighborhood during the Christmas holiday season involves Siria in ever more dangerous escapades and seriously disrupts her friendships when she mistakenly believes her best friend might be an arsonist. Siria narrates her own story as it is unfolding; there is no omniscient adult voice to guide her, only her own sensitivity and insights as she pieces the puzzle together. Giff deftly builds upon Siria’s relationships with Pop, his colleagues at the firehouse, her friends Laila and Douglas, and a stray dog, greatly broadening the usual definition of family. There is some gritty reality, but the overall tone is one of goodness, kindness and community.
Tender and satisfying. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)