This is the second Katherine Center book I’ve read. My book club read How To Walk Away a couple years ago. It was fine! Not my usual cup of tea, but we actually had a good discussion around disability, the ethics that therapists should/do follow, etc. I thought Things You Save In A Fire might be a good addition for the Beach Reads presentation that I’m doing for work.
Cassie Hanwell is a 26 year old fire fighter. She’s also a rising star in the Austin FD, until she beats the ever-loving crap out of a City Council member at an awards ceremony. This is our first big clue that Cassie has Baggage. In short order, we learn that she does not date – ever, is completely estranged from her mother, who lives in Massachusetts, and that Cassie and the City Councilor have History. Bad History. The fall-out from her assault leads Cassie to accept her mother’s invitation to move to MA and help her through some medical issues – just for nine months to a year (oddly specific).
Once in MA, Cassie takes a job with a local firehouse where she is the only woman. The department is also far more “old school” in every practical way than Austin: the equipment and facilities are old and outdated, and the staff is the bro-iest collection of fire dudes you can imagine. Of course, Cassie feels like an outsider, who has to doubly prove herself as the new guy and a woman. And, of double course, there is another new guy, The Rookie, with whom Cassie falls immediately in Super Like.
This whole book is about healing from trauma, forgiveness, and the power and importance of connection. All of that is important and good! This book just reads like the author wrote down her goals for emotional learning and then constructed a plot around them. Every single plot point felt obvious and pat; this wasn’t conflict and growth based on characters, it was characters put in certain situations to illustrate a point. There were absolutely no surprises here, except maybe for the addiction subplot that came out of absolutely nowhere, but provided an opportunity for Cassie to be compassionate and for the other character to get better.
The points the author made are all valid. There’s just not a lot of nuance here.