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Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Title: Things You Save in a Fire
Author: Katherine Center
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 310
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA (Texas and Massachusetts)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Cassie Hanwell was born to handle emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she' seen her fair share of them, and she's a total pro at managing other people's tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie's old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren't exactly thrilled to have a "lady" on the crew--even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn't seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can't think about that. Because love is girly, and it's not her thing. And don't forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping... and it means risking it all--the only job she's ever loved, and the her she's worked like hell to become.

Review: I enjoyed Center's book How to Walk Away so when this book was a Book of the Month option, I snapped it right up. I liked this one even better.

I liked all the characters in this book, even the ones who are sexist. That doesn't mean I like like them, but they are realistic, believable, and serve a good function in the book. Cassie is strong, smart, so good at her job, she can beat anyone in pull up competitions, running, and more. She loves her job and will sacrifice anything and everything for it. And that's the problem. She has nothing else in her life beyond her job. She knows this but feels it keeps her "safe." She doesn't allow anyone in. Until she gets to Boston.

This book is so good at showing Cassie's avoidance of life, of feeling, of vulnerability, and we slowly learn why as the story progresses. Her feelings of abandonment and pain run deep and she has created an armor to protect herself. Forgiveness is an important theme in this book and I have never heard a better explanation of it:

"[Forgiveness] is about acknowledging to yourself that someone hurt you, and accepting that."

"Then it's about accepting that the person who hurt you is flawed...and letting that guide you to a better... understanding of what happened."

"...the third part...involves trying to look at the aftermath of what happened and find ways that you benefitted, not just ways that you were harmed."

Challenges for which this counts: 

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