Things You Save In a Fire

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I read this book in just a few days. It was very predictable but also VERY enjoyable. I was only about 1/3 of the way in when I wanted to do nothing but sit down and read the book without interruption. When I got close to the end I both worried that there wouldn't be enough pages to wrap it all up and also that I didn't want it to end. I savored the last two chapters - one page at a time.

My only complaint was with the Epilogue. While everything wrapped up nicely, it seemed like a last thought dumping ground. There were so many literary gems in those last pages - I wish they would've been spread more evenly throughout the book (although there were some really nice lines throughout the book too).

On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 being a lot of examples/instances):

Sex: 1

Religion: 0

Gruesome: 1

Suspense: 1

Morality: 2

Traditional: 2

Sex - the book opens with a retelling of one co-worker propositioning another. It was conveyed to the reader gently and turned out to be a joke in a mis-guided attempt to support their colleague. One scene between unmarried adults goes from "I might need to stop...but...I'd to get started." to "We didn't stop." (pg. 234)

Religion - none that I remember

Gruesome - minor recounts of fire station training and incidents

Suspense - there was weak suspense around the idea of who was stalking Cassie

Morality - a presenter grabbed an award recipients butt (pg. 14), an unmarried couple have sex, a mother walks out on her family

Traditional - minor language - "Heath Thomas" (pg. 10) Fire house talk (pg. 86) I did not rate this category middle-of-the-road because Diana walked out on her family. Otherwise it is standardly traditional - no LGBTQ mentions, but no mention of church either.

I had wondered if there would be a fire, because of the title. After ten chapters it dawned on me that the characters were fire fighters so that probably explained the title and of course there would be a fire - it goes with the job.


Fictional Captain Harris was Austin's first African-American Female fire chief.

Austin's real first African-American (male) fire chief only arrived December 10, 2018.

Discussion Questions

The book begins with the re-telling of Hernandez propositioning Cassie at the awards dinner.

It was soon revealed that it was just a joke to distract her from being nervous.

Was Hernandez's gesture considerate or inappropriate?

In Kindergarten, Cassie wanted to be the tooth fairy when she grew up. (pg. 14)

Being a firefighter just happened through a series of events.

What was your first dream job? How did you come to be in your current career?

The incident at the award ceremony did not appear in the papers and Cassie didn't know if that was a good or bad thing. (pg. 18) What do you think?

Did you ever call your parents by their first names? (Ch. 3)

How would you react if your least favorite parent asked you to move half-way across the country and care for them for one year?

Ted tells a grown Cassie to go help her mom. (Ch. 3)

Did your parents ever, successfully, tell you as a grown up to do something? How easily did you go along?

What did you think Heath had done to Cassie in high school (before we found out the real story)?

Cassie's dad said "the best revenge is forgetting". (pg. 47) Do you agree?

What about forgetting with or without forgiveness - like the old adage, forgive and forget?

Cassie thinks she would have gone to help her mom even without the job pressure.

Do you think she would have? Should she have been more honest with her mom about why she was there?

Do you agree with Diana that choosing to love, even knowing you could get hurt, is courage, not weakness? (pg. 59)

Did you think Cassie should have slept in the supply closet or the main room? (Ch. 10)

Diana left her family knowing she'd have limited time with Wallace. (Ch. 13)

Try to put yourself in Diana's shoes - would you make the same choice?

Try Diana's steps for forgiveness: (Ch. 13, pg. 112)

1. "Acknowledge to yourself that someone hurt you and accept that."

2. Accept that the person who hurt you is flawed.

3. Look at the aftermath and find ways that you benefited.

Was Cassie obsessing a little too much about the graffiti in her locker? (end Ch. 19)

How did she know it wasn't just another prank?

Who did you think was the stalker, and why?

Cassie kept a secret from her mom of why she moved. Diana kept her diagnosis secret from Cassie. Whose motivations were better? Whose truth would've been more hurtful? Whose secret was most unfair to keep?

Did you believe there was a little boy in the grocery store?

Where did you think Cassie wanted to take DeStasio when she extended her hand to him? (end of Ch. 28)

If this novel were made into a movie, who would you cast to play which characters?

Theme Ideas

Serve chocolate chip cookies like Cassie imagined making every night as she fell asleep. (pgs. 6 & 308)

Serve Spaghetti O's like Cassie and her dad ate a lot of after her mom left. (Ch. 3, pg. 28)

Serve tacos because Cassie said if she didn't stay in the Lillian FD after one year she'd move some place with tacos. (pg. 48)

Serve lobster bisque and salad with fresh garden greens on hand-painted plates. (Ch. 7)

Serve fresh-baked vegan brownies and Twinkies because when Cassie compared the two fire stations that was her contrast. (pg. 91)

Serve omelettes like the Rookie made in Ch. 15.

Show videos of stage fails.

Make a crochet project (potholder) like Diana wanted Cassie to do at crochet club. (pg. 57)

Play Bananagrams like Diana wanted to play with Cassie. (Ch. 13, pg. 107)

Plan some pranks for your guests - as if you were a fire crew. Get ideas from Ch. 14, pg. 115.

Or watch firefighter pranks on YouTube.

As a group, visit a firehouse and take them a show of appreciation.