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Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center is about courage and the power of forgiveness. The following book club questions for Things You Save in a Fire will have spoilers so check out my spoiler-free review first.
Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at 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 hero she’s worked like hell to become.
Book Club Questions for Things You Save in a Fire
- What did you think about the beginning when Cassie is being honored as the first female firefighter to win the Austin Fire Department’s Valor Award?
- Cassie is horrified that Heath Thompson is the one who will present her with the award. Did you suspect that Heath was a predator from the start or were you confused at what was happening? Would you have knocked him out if you were Cassie?
- We learn that Cassie is closed off due to two traumatic events that happened at 16. One was Heath’s assault of her, which we find out the entire horrible story at the end, and the other was her mother leaving the family for another man. Let’s discuss Cassie’s wall she establishes between herself and the rest of the world. How did Cassie change from the beginning of the story to the end?
- Cassie eventually leaves Texas for Boston to get away from backlash of what happened at the banquet and to also help her mother. But Cassie is quite standoffish with her and doesn’t want to establish a relationship again. Did you agree with how Cassie felt? Why or why not?
- How did the Boston firehouse compare to the one back in Texas? What did you think about the rest of the firefighters in Boston?
- Both Cassie and the rookie Owen are the newbies and so they’re thrown together for pranks and also learning the ins and outs of this particular firehouse. Did you know right away that Owen and Cassie would have a romance? When do you think Cassie finally admitted she had feelings for him? Did you like the romance?
- What did you think about the scenes dedicated to life as a firefighter? Why do you think Cassie chose this profession?
- Cassie starts to get harassed—someone writes “slut” in her locker room, slashes her tires and throws a rock through her mom’s house. Did you suspect DeStasio? What did you think about that character and the confrontation at the end between him and Cassie?
- Cassie learns the power of forgiveness and letting go—she forgives her mother for leaving her and she finally moves forward after dealing with the trauma of Heath’s horrible assault. Let’s discuss Cassie’s self-journey.
- What did you think about the ending and the epilogue?
- What’s the meaning of the title in relation to the story?
- If this was made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast for the main roles?
What to read next
Contemporary women’s fiction always provides great discussions. Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman is a love letter to bookworms everywhere!
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren is a feel-good romantic comedy.
Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.
Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.