Book Review: Things We Set on Fire by Deborah Reed

things we set on fireBLURB: A series of tragedies brings Vivvie’s young grandchildren into her custody, and her two estranged daughters back under one roof. Jackson, Vivvie’s husband, was shot and killed thirty years ago, and the ramifications have splintered the family into their own isolated remembrances and recriminations.

Sisters Elin and Kate fought mercilessly in childhood and have avoided each other for years. Elin seems like the last person to watch her sister convalesce after an attempted suicide. But Elin has her own reasons for coming to Kate’s side and will soon discover Kate’s own staggering needs.

This deeply personal, hauntingly melancholy look at the damages families inflict on each other—and the healing that only they can provide—is filled with flinty, flawed, and complex people stumbling toward some kind of peace. Like Elizabeth Strout and Kazuo Ishiguro, Deborah Reed understands a story, and its inhabitants reveal themselves in the subtleties: the space between the thoughts, the sigh behind the smile, and the unreliable lies people tell themselves that ultimately reveal the deepest truths.

 

MY THOUGHTS: This is my first Reed read (ha!) but not likely to be my last. I’ve enjoyed the way the author can weave past & present very, very smoothly and the way that life is portrayed as a cycle.

I actually found part of that cycle woke memories that I try hard to keep buried. Being raised primarily by a (at times) mentally unstable parent is not easy. Not to put down the character of Vivvie, but I saw similarities between her and Kaye, especially when Vivvie was at the end of her coping times. I know why Vivvie took the actions she did; & I strive to be the opposite in my life. Perhaps I’m trying too hard, but that’s not an open conversation for a blog!

I guess everyone carries a burden of some kind.

 

Four stars, easy to grade, harder to read.

 

I read this book as part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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#craft31days day sixteen

Not a lot of stitching tonight, maybe 80 stitches in all?

The main reason is that Si is sick, so after swimming lessons I drove back into town so B can go to his Force Fit meet. I walked around Silo Park & the Wynyard Quarter back towards the CBD. #masetheace wasn’t too happy as I only let him use the elevator twice, & forbade him from interupting a yoga class on the most amazing glass viewing platform (there was plenty of room for us anyway) but I enjoyed the fresh air.

And summer is coming! That top left photo? That’s the pohutukawa starting to bud. Its our Christmas tree, as its covered in gorgeous red flowers during December. Old Maori tales say that if the tree flowers early, we’ll get a long, hot summer. Yay!

#craft31days day fourteen

Saturday! Saturday! Oh bliss.

I did my volunteer shift collecting money for the Breast Cancer Foundation outside the local supermarket then (more bliss) I WENT SHOPPING BY MYSELF & GOT EVERYTHING ON MY LIST & ONLY THE THINGS ON THE LIST. The key word here obvs is “myself” 😂

This afternoon was lovely & warm; I got three loads of laundry dry on the line, everything unpacked & snack bags made for the week ahead; dinner; cleaned up after the boys (there’s only a little more gib to go up & next week I’ll be painting) & some stitching in while watching Maleficient. I’m a sucker for fairy tale adaptations.

And as I said on IG, it’s like Border Bliss. I worked my way around and the bits ended up in the right spot. Hooray!

#craft31days day ten

Wow! We’re almost a third of the way thru the month & I’m pleased to see I’m sticking every day. It’s the little things, but I love the feeling of accomplishment.

#craft31days & going hard… The bathroom is fully done with the tile slate (the Screaming Teen couldn’t be bothered getting out clamps so used #masetheace as a weight on top of my freezer!!!) & half lined in gib.
Second large portion of #fairyidyll is also complete down to the wisper back stitch. Really happy with how this is working up & looking.

#craft31days day eight

I’m down to 5% battery so let’s make this quick.

The bathroom is clean & clear of all the debris. 840kg worth, people. My wrist & shoulders hurt. Simon started nailing down the new tile slate tonight. With “help”.

I managed to get a decent hour or two in Fairy Idyll after everyone else went to bed. Hooray! That’s another 250+ stitches in this weekend.

Hope your weekend was as productive!