Sharon Draper's Forged by Fire is the gritty account of the lives of an inner-city family. Young Gerald is the son of a drug-addicted mother and an absent father. Left alone at the age of three, Gerald accidentally sets fire to the family's apartment. When his mother is convicted of negligence and sent to jail, Gerald lives with his wheelchair bound great aunt, Aunt Queen. He is happy with Aunt Queen, but she dies, leaving Gerald with his returning mother, sister, and an abusive, drug-addled stepfather. With the children's mother unwilling to acknowledge the abuse, Gerald is left to defend the sister he loves. He defends her against his stepfather, who ultimately is killed by a second apartment fire. As the novel closes, Gerald, his sister, and the children's mother are headed to the hospital in an ambulance. Though marked by tragedy, the family at least has hope for a better future. Draper’s gritty and dark novel is a mature read, and suitable for young adult readers.