Thursday, August 29, 2019

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Cassie Hanwell is a star on the rise in the Austin Fire Department. The youngest firefighter (and only woman) to be awarded the department’s Valor Award and having recently passed the Lieutenants Exam mean an inevitable big promotion—until she screws it all up by very publicly assaulting a local politician.

Not that it happened without reason. Which is why she’s granted a bit of a reprieve and a chance to get out of the limelight until the trouble passes. Coincidentally, her mother has asked Cassie to move in for a year and help her recover from eye surgery. So Cassie finds a position in a tiny town outside Boston. A position given to her only because the department is so desperate for men that it’ll even take a woman! But Cassie knows her place as the first female in the old-school Lillian Fire Department is precarious. It means, per her old captain’s warnings, keeping her head down and never drawing undue attention to the fact that she’s not technically one of the boys. But Cassie isn’t one to keep her head down and when she meets to new rookie, she knows it’s going to be harder than she ever thought it could be!

Oh, I loved Katherine Center’s latest! Strained family dynamics, sexism, harassment, and more can’t keep Cassie Hanwell down. But it’s how she deals with it all that makes this such a great read.

Cassie and her mother have a terrible relationship, all thanks to her mother walking out on Cassie and her father on Cassie’s sixteenth birthday. And while that’s bad enough, the reader quickly learns that that birthday was worse than just that.

But as it turns out, and as is made clear by Cassie’s own father, Cassie’s mother isn’t a bad person. And living with her for a year gives Cassie a chance to finally learn that. It's also an opportunity to forgive her for her actions all those years ago. If, that is, Cassie is willing to give her the chance.

Cassie is as tough as she is stubborn. She’s also smart and incredibly likable. Which makes reading her story such a treat.

I’ll add, too, that I enjoyed this one so much I immediately downloaded the audio short that’s a bit of an accompaniment to this one. (It also cements a tie in with How to Walk Away that fans will definitely catch reference to early in the book.) The Girl in the Plane is read by Center herself and includes a first chapter excerpt of the audiobook of Things You Save in a Fire.

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