Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

by Heather Caliendo
Things You Save in a Fire - Book Club Chat - Review

Editorial note: I received a copy of Things You Save in a Fire in exchange for a review.

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center is a story about the power of forgiveness, strength and love.

I was first introduced to Katherine Center when I read How to Walk Away last year. I loved her writing style and how the story touches the journey one faces in the aftermath of a tragedy. It was both heartbreaking and hopeful. So I had high expectations for Things You Save in a Fire. Overall, I liked the story but I did feel a couple things were missing.

The story follows female firefighter Cassie Hanwell. She’s tough AF and extremely skilled at her job. But she experienced two extremely different traumatic events at age 16 that leads her somewhat stunted when it comes to relationships, especially of the romantic variety. So when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life in Texas and move to Boston, Cassie, a lover of routine, suddenly has to step to in an unfamiliar world. 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. 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.

Firefighter life

The firefighter life is something I didn’t know much about—other than the people are heroes and courageous. So it was interesting reading about that world, especially from the perspective of a female firefighter. I also liked that Cassie is actually quite short but her height can prove to be an advantage at times. But also a drawback as well that she has to learn to overcome. Stories that feature women in male-dominated positions generally make for good reads and you root for the main character, which is the case here. There’s so many vivid details about life as a firefighter, which the author wrote she drew inspiration from her firefighter husband’s experiences.

I actually think I would have liked to learn more about the other male firefighters, beyond the rookie Owen. I would have liked to have seen more developments with those characters as well as more action firefighter scenes.

The romance

So I did read some reviews ahead of time where people didn’t like the romance. And I can half see why for sure. It does feel a bit forced at times; it didn’t seem as natural as it tends to in these kind of reads. You know right away who she’s going to have feelings for, which is fine and he’s a good character. Cassie’s traumatic background causes her to have a wall up and I do like she learned the power of love but I wanted it to be a bit more believable. I know, it’s a fiction book but when it comes to romance, I really want it to be earned and not just a convenient plot point.

Final thoughts: My issues are fairly minor but it did draw me away from the story a bit compared to how I felt about How to Walk Away. All that said, I did enjoy the story and Cassie’s journey to finding herself.

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