Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Title: Things You Save in a Fire
Author: Katherine Center
Publication: St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 2019
Genre: Fiction
Setting: Present-day Massachusetts
Description: Cassie Hanwell is a firefighter who has fought for and earned the respect of her peers. Yet she has never forgotten the worst day of her life: her 16th birthday when her mother, Diana, walked out on the family. When Diana reaches out and tells Cassie she is ill and needs help, Cassie turns her down flat. But her father persuades Cassie that she was “raised to do the right thing. And she’s the one who raised you.” Soon a reluctant Cassie has secured a job with a fire department in a small town near Rockport, Massachusetts and moved into her mother’s attic. That’s the easy part – gaining acceptance from her new coworkers and forgiving her mother are the hard parts.

My Impression: The Massachusetts setting of this book appealed to me although I had not heard of the author, and I was rewarded with vivid characters and an enjoyable and unusual story. Cassie created a hard shell around herself after her mother left the family in Texas and moved to Massachusetts to build a new life with someone else. Other events on the night of Cassie’s 16th birthday have prevented her from dating or developing an emotional life, and all her energy has been devoted to proving herself to the over-testosteroned firefighters who are already skeptical of women in their firehouses.

When she reaches Massachusetts, she has to cope with a mother who is sicker than Cassie realized and wants friendship and forgiveness. The story might have become too mawkish for me but luckily Cassie’s mother is a determined and interesting character, and the reconciliation theme is offset by Cassie’s workplace troubles, where a rookie firefighter is the first man Cassie has fallen for as an adult. However, she knows that dating a fellow firefighter would be disastrous for her career so she is determined to ignore him. I really liked the fact that this book didn’t fall into a single category: it wasn’t chick-lit; it wasn’t all about losing a parent; it wasn’t a romance, although there were some romantic moments; and there was even a little mystery going on. Owen, the rookie firefighter, is too good to be true but fun to read about.
This is the fifth of my 20 Books of Summer.  Center is a New York Times bestselling author.  Have you read any of her books?

Source: Advance reading copy from the publisher.


Lark said...

I read this book last year and really enjoyed it! Just reading your review of it makes me smile. :)

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great summer read. I am not acquainted with this author so nice to have a new rec!


TracyK said...

I have been curious about this book, so I am glad you reviewed it. I like the premise but have a hard time seeing a woman moving to a new town in that situation. It would be interesting to read about a female firefighter.

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

I don't think I've ever read about a female fire-fighter. Relocation to a new city/ department is always tough. Add to that the possible gender stereotyping issues, poor Cassie! I'm sure she aced it though. Your review shows that the book was all kinds of warm-fuzzies. :)