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.
The Things We Set on Fire is a character book. The book focuses on telling you the story of three generations of women thrown back together and how their interconnected lives unfold when they are forced to not only face each other, but all the things they ran away from. The characters Reed created are both vibrant and authentic. There is an unmistakable truth to them. They aren't written for you to like or love or even relate to...they are written merely in the vein of feeling real. As the novel picks up speed, you will find yourself drawn to them because Reed goes to great lengths to explain them to you, to tell you precisely what it is that makes them so broken so you can understand and care.
The story does not allow the reader to skim, but I found that I embraced a slower pace of reading because the story was intriguing, and (again) it is so well written. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the book was. The reader will really come to know the characters. They are all real; flawed, yet attempting to overcome their defects. The message received is.... life is short, try to be your best for yourself and those around you.
Things We Set on Fire is a beautifully written book, but the things that make this novel beautiful--the use of very descriptive language, describe