Secrets in fire

by Stella Groen

Book Summary

Secrets in the fire is a wonderfully written book about a daring young girl named Sofia. When her father is terribly killed and her village is destroyed by bandits Sofia and her family must take an enduring journey to find a new safe place to call home. Somewhere along their journey to the unknown they come across a poor old woman who helps Sofia and her family get to the city, the old woman then passes away leaving the starving family alone. They soon reach the refugee camp, after finally settling in Maria and Sofia go to a poor community school. Voluntarily run by Jose-Maria the school has no utilities for proper learning, with four children to a table and only one class of ninety two kids. Maria and Sofia reminisced a beautiful white dress that their father had brought home for Maria one night after being in the city. Sofia promised she would give Maria a silk white dress that was very alike. The next day Sofia visits an old man named Totio, he owns a sewing machine and she hopes the man can help her with making a dress for Maria. He tells her that she must find a piece of fabric and he will help her sew a gorgeous dress for Maria. After stealing a white sheet from Jose-Maria Totio helps her make the dress as promised. The look on Maria's face she describes as priceless, the adoration and love for the dress shone through clearly. Maria never wanted to take it off, she rarely did. There was a winding path that leads down to the calm rippling river, everyone in the village was warned to never stray from the path as there were still active land mines hidden near the path. Sofia imagined the mines to be like monsters in the ground, patiently waiting to bite at one of her legs. It was the most dangerous thing she could have done, to leave the path. As her and Maria played, pushed and shoved along the path to the river Sofia's delicate foot set off a monster waiting in the sand unleashing what felt like an exploding fury of biting ants all over her entire body. She had set off a huge regret in her life, a huge mistake, she sit off a land mine. Sofia and Maria were both in a hospital in the city for a while, Sofia faintly overheard nurses and doctors praying upon Maria s life saying she might not make it. Maria was in alot of pain, missing her home, missing her father. On her last night in the hospital Maria was saying how desperately she wanted to just go home, Sofia reached for her although the pain shot through her she had to do it or else Maria would leave her. Maria explained the pain she was in and spoke her last words, "I'm going home now." As she laid back down and closed her eyes. Sofia found it hard without Maria and soon she found it even harder after the doctor had to amputate both her legs. When Sofia finally returned another man had moved in with Mama Lydia, he was violent and an alcoholic, she couldn't live with him around anymore so she ran away to the city. Doctor Raul found her by a car, sad and lifeless. The kind hearted man took Sofia to his house, the house seemed like a mansion to her. A true luxury. The Doctors wife felt somewhat sympathetic for the poor child, but she knew Sofia could not stay with them forever. Doctor Raul finds himself lost on what to do and seeks advice from his old wise gate keeper, he tells him that Sofia can stay with his wife's sister. After settling in for a while Sofia expresses her interest in sewing, she is taken to a woman who has a house set up with a some things for sewing. Sofia begins working with her, learning the secrets of sewing along the way. Sofia still misses her mother more then anything, she dreams of her coming to get her saying that she misses her too. Weeks passed an no one came, Sofia kept working on and on. Until one day she heard that someone had come to the hospital looking for Sofia, the familiar man who turned out to be Totio came to the house where Sofia was living and explained to her that he was too old to keep his sewing business and offered to hand it down to Sofia. Sofia was left lost, not knowing what to do. She had a week to figure out what she wanted to do. In that time Lydia had traveled to the city with Alfredo to find Sofia, to beg for her to come home. Lydia explained how the violent man had finally left and how much she missed her daughter. Dawn broke over the next morning, Sofia and Lydia took the opportunity to visit the cemetery where Maria was buried. They mourned her until sunset, remembering the great loss to her family. Sofia had decided to returned back to the village to take up Totio's offer. A week had passed and she said her goodbyes and thank-yous to everyone who had helped her in the city, when she finally returned she moved into Totios little hut, where her new business was. A boy who was told to watch the sewing machine over night so no one steals it stayed there all day watching Sofia magically sew with such grace. Sofia's journey still was not over, she has alot ahead of her but she had alot behind her. She had learnt the Secrets in the fire but she still had alot more to learn in her journey ahead.

Great Book, Henning manages to add emotion to his words and make you feel as though you are right there with the character as she tells her story

Character Profiles


Sofia is a daring young girl. Shes been through alot of misfortune in her life but she carries on strong. In this book Sofia is only around the age of 12 but takes on the responsibility of an adult. Shes brave and tackles her problems head on, trying to understand the world around her. Sofia and Maria were always close, almost twins as everyone in the village always said. She lives in a small poor village with her family; Mama Lydia, Maria and Alfredo.


Maria was very much like her sister. Maybe a little less daring, but still strong. She at a young age lost her life when her and her younger sister Sofia were playing along the path and unfortunately set off a land mine. Maria's family miss her greatly. Maria was young and bright, full of questions. She always wanted to know more.  

Doctor Raul

Hes a soft hearted young man. Doctor Raul tries his best to help those around him, to be a good man.   Hes married and lives in the city in a nice house.


Totio, an old, dedicated, hard working man. He sews and lives in the small village with his wife Fernanda. Totio is an aged man who is wise and strong. Further along in this book her gives over his business to young Sofia as he has grown too old for it.


She too like Totio is a dedicated faithful woman full of spirit and faith. She lives in the city with her own house and a sewing room. Fatima is a kind hearted woman who has faith in young Sofia. Shes very patient, Fatima live on her own but has a few friends within the city.


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