Though marketed as adult fiction, this is really more a coming-of-age novel than anything else. The heroine, Jessilyn Lassiter, has had a somewhat sheltered childhood is rural Virginia. However, in 1932, Jessilyn turns 13, and things really change. Gemma, the daughter of a black couple employed by the Lassiters, is the sole survivor of a fire and after she loses her parents, Jessilyn's father declares that he will take in Gemma and raise her as his own.Not surprisingly for the time, this decision unleashes a complete firestorm. Reactions from the locals range from kindness to ostracism to outright violent hatred. Through it all, Jessilyn and Gemma remain friends, but the trials faced by the family open Jessilyn's eyes to the real ugliness of racism and prejudice. On the one hand, this book was a really eye-opening read that told a much less sanitized than usual version(at least way less sanitized than anything I learned in school) of segregation history. The book is told in first person through Jessilyn's eyes, and she is a very convincing 13 year old who is sometimes wise and sometimes immature beyond anything I'd like to remember about myself at that age.While this book had some very good points, it also had some real rough spots,too. Most of the dialogue employs a southern dialect that makes for frustrating reading. The setting of the book, Calloway County, is not a real county in Virginia, but based on the descriptions, it sounds a lot like the Southside region of Virginia. If that's the case, then I'd say the dialect seems accurate for what I've encountered there, but that doesn't make it any easier to plow through as a reader. Parts of the story also feel a little contrived and overly predictable in places, which I found distracting. Lastly, the story also started to drag for me about halfway through, and I think it's because the characterizations seemed a little simplistic. This may be because we saw everything through Jessilyn's eyes (and she's not the most perceptive heroine ever), but it still made for somewhat frustrating reading.Even so, I found this an interesting, if uneven, read. Fireflies in December is inspirational fiction, but most of the inspirational content came from characters speaking of faith and justice in ways that reminded me very much of everyday conversations I've heard in rural Virginia in real life rather than protracted scenes of stilted preaching. One note of caution: This book is grittier than most, and there are some graphic scenes of violence toward people and toward animals that some readers will find upsetting.