Things You Save in a Fire | By Katherine Center
Narrative and Plot
Things You Save in a Fire is entirely a first person narrative. Cassie Hamwell talks to the reader about her life and how she managed to cope after moving from Texas to Boston, working as the only female firefighter. Cassie has issues but she is a confident, strong willed, powerful and inspiring woman.
The plot begins as a regular contemporary women’s fiction story. But then, it beautifully evolves into a much more deeper tale of human connection and relationships. There is never a brake or pause. The story just flows easily as if it is actually a real-life excerpt. The parts about the firefighters and their job hazards looks well researched. Although, as a person who has no idea about the kind of atmosphere in a fire station, one cannot really comment on that.
Characters and Conflicts
Things You Save in a Fire is the story of Cassie. She is the protagonist who evolves throughout the story and tries to find a better life. Of course, there are other interesting characters who contribute to the overall plot but it is Cassie’s story from the beginning to the end.
Cassie is that everyday woman that you can relate to at some level. Even if your work does not involve doing ten pull ups every shift, it feels like women constantly have to prove themselves by being extraordinary in order to be taken seriously. And while it is a good thing that there are many women out there who are actually extraordinary, can’t a person be just ordinary and still be accepted and respected irrespective of their gender?
One of the major conflicts of the book is being a female fire fighter and the obstacles she has to face at work. The amount of work and effort she has to put, in order to be considered an equal. That right there, is my ideological conflict with the book. Is being better than a man or even being equally good at something like a man makes a woman an equal person?
Isn’t it time that we give up such notions and not limit our benchmarks to the male gender and measure everything with those S.I units? And I know that my arguement works only in an ideal world. An ideal world is the one where a woman can freely be her true self and not be judged or rated because of it. A world where a woman has no taboo to pick up any profession and even when she does, she doesn’t have to act like a man in order to gain everyone’s respect.
But, Things You Save in a Fire is a story that takes place in a real world. Which is why Cassie’s conflicts feel more real than ever. The silver lining is how she deals with them in the end. The general idea and the overall philosophy of the book is both inspiring and gratifying to read.
You need to have more books like this. Books that inspire you to love whole-heartedly and remind you to forgive yourself now and then. Books that eventually spread the message that you can try and become a better person. Books that tell you to focus on the good moments in life and hold on to them.