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I read a few reviews of Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center that suggested this contemporary women’s fiction novel is a fluff piece. I want to frame this discussion around this idea, because I did not see this book as a “fluff piece” at all. The idea that someone might pick this up for a bit of light reading and discover something else entirely is worrying. So let’s get into it.
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center is Not a Fluff Piece
Let’s get this out of the way right now.
I will get into the trigger issues later, but some of the issues the main character, Cassie, deals with are serious trigger issues for some readers. Yes, this book contains a romantic element, and it has some witty dialogue. But it is by no means a lighthearted, romantic romp.
There is chronic illness, gender inequality, rape, and abuse of power. Any one of these issues by themselves can be hard to handle and put together, they can be debilitating. So I want to refute the claim that this is a fluff piece right now so unassuming readers aren’t caught off guard.
No Word Is Wasted
Things You Save in a Fire is my first by Katherine Center, and I will definitely be scoping out her backlist. As mentioned the dialogue is witty, but more than that, no word is wasted. The narrative is clean, crisp, and efficient. This book moved.
I listened to the audiobook and not once did I feel compelled to take a break. Some books I listen to have swaths of description or the retelling of the same event over and over. Such diatribes sometimes require a break for my ears. Not so with this one.
The story pulls you forward from one scene to the next. The relationship between Cassie and the rookie, Owen, is so unexpected. It leaves you staring at your phone to wonder if you’d just heard correctly. This contemporary women’s fiction novel does not rest on stereotypes.
Reflecting On One’s Life
A theme I find a lot in women’s fiction and one played out here in Things You Save in a Fire is that of reflecting on the events of one’s own life in a different perspective. We are our own worst enemy, and sometimes that means we see things the way we want to and not how they really played out.
Through an explosive turn of events played out in the opening chapter, Cassie is forced to leave her firefighting life in Austin, Texas, to go care for her mom in Massachusetts. This relocation forces Cassie to reexamine the events that have shaped her life up until that point, and such reflection reveals some new truths.
Again, I would note here this isn’t a fluff piece. This is some difficult introspection, but it’s one I always enjoy in a character because I’m so guilty of the same thing. It’s comforting to see a character struggle with a very real tendency of humans and conquer that challenge.
I mention potential trigger issues, because I do not read books about dogs for obvious reasons.
In Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center, you will find the following potential trigger issues:
- Gender Inequality in the Workplace
I mention the gender inequality because it’s a prominent part of Cassie’s struggle as a female firefighter in a male-dominated sphere. For others managing this issue, this could be a difficult book to read.
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I devoured this book. The complex character of Cassie, the stinging, dialogue, and the fast-paced narrative kept this story from being weighted down by the heavier issues it examines.
Have you read Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center?
Let’s us know what you thought in the comments, but please – no spoilers!