A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe
Release Date - March 10, 2015
St. Martin's Press
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
Set in the '50s, 18-year-old Emmaline "Emmy" Nelson is promised to a neighbor. While she likes Ambrose, she's certainly not in love. It's her final year of high school and spending time with her new friends and suggestions from the guidance counselor shows her that there is more out there, if she wants it.
Breaking up with Ambrose, however, does not please her mother. She's banished from the family, and it's the separation from her father and her younger sister Birdie that is really hard to take. On her own, living with an aunt she doesn't know, she ends up landing a job with the local paper, and that's where Emmy really starts to learn about the people she knows and loves and the community surrounding them. It's a time of the KKK, bigotry, and horrifying events that have Emmy questioning everything.
A Fireproof Home for the Bride started a little slowly for me. I just couldn't bring myself to like Emmy's strictly Lutheran mother or the belief that the Catholics, Jews, and black people moving to their small town were ruining it for everyone. I couldn't stand Ambrose, either, and cheered when Emmy set off on her own. It's that point where I really started to get into the story.
Nothing in Emmy's life comes easy. Even after she's on her own, she still has struggles to face. The book shifts from general/historical fiction with a touch of romance to more of a mystery. Emmy teams up with a reporter to get to the bottom of a number of fires, starting with the fire of a theater owned by a Russian man and the place Emmy was working prior to the newspaper offices. It's really no surprise to the reader who is behind everything.
In the end, I liked but never really loved A Fireproof Home for the Bride. If anything, it saddened me how little we've really come when it comes to the suspicion, hatred, and bigotry towards immigrants. It is an excellent look at the times, the arranged marriage seemed a little odd to me as my dad and his sisters grew up in that period and had free choice on who they married, but I was able to overlook that. In the end, it's Emmy's character that stole the show and made this book worth reading. I wouldn't mind reading more about her in the future.