Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review | A Fireproof Home For The Bride by Amy Scheibe

A Fireproof Home For The Bride by Amy Scheibe
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: March 10, 2015
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 

Emmaline Nelson and her sister Birdie grow up in the hard, cold rural Lutheran world of strict parents, strict milking times, and strict morals. Marriage is preordained, the groom practically predestined. Though it’s 1958, southern Minnesota did not see changing roles for women on the horizon. Caught in a time bubble between a world war and the ferment of the 1960’s, Emmy doesn’t see that she has any say in her life, any choices at all. Only when Emmy’s fiancĂ© shows his true colors and forces himself on her does she find the courage to act—falling instead for a forbidden Catholic boy, a boy whose family seems warm and encouraging after the sere Nelson farm life. Not only moving to town and breaking free from her engagement but getting a job on the local newspaper begins to open Emmy’s eyes. She discovers that the KKK is not only active in the Midwest but that her family is involved, and her sense of the firm rules she grew up under—and their effect—changes completely. 

Amy Scheibe's A Fireproof Home for the Bride has the charm of detail that will drop readers into its time and place: the home economics class lecture on cuts of meat, the group date to the diner, the small-town movie theater popcorn for a penny. It also has a love story—the wrong love giving way to the right—and most of all the pull of a great main character whose self-discovery sweeps the plot forward.

A Fireproof Home For The Bride by Amy Scheibe

My Thoughts:  Emmy Nelson's life was already planned. She was raised in a fairly strict and religious household, never questioning her parents nor her faith. She was to be married to Ambrose Brann and settle into life as his farm wife. This prospect for her future did not excite her, but she accepted it. After a fun evening out with friends, she began to see that the world was much bigger than she thought and there may be more to the life than settling for what she was told she must be. After a frightful evening out with Ambrose, Emmy broke off her engagement and moved away from her parents home. She got a job and began to experience some of the freedom and independence that she had only recently begun to dream about. 

While all of these things and more were going on with Emmy, there were stirrings in Minnesota in the late 1950's: religious divide, class divide, racial divide, and gender equality issues were all brewing in this rural area. It took a couple of chapters to become fully invested in exactly what was going on with A Fireproof Home For The Bride, but once I did, I WAS RIVETED. I love the way that Emmy's coming-of-age was woven into the rest of what was going on outside of the walls of her home, how she played increasingly important roles in certain events as she realized her importance to her family and to the community and in general. And to herself.

Emmy did not want to be told what she should do with her future nor how she should feel. She wanted to think and feel for herself. The very culture of the area didn't dictate this as a norm, however. The standards of the area were that it was permissible not only to pre-decide on marriages for your children, but the gender norms from back in the 1950's supported basically everything that Emmy wanted to fight against. So here we have this young main character that wants to fight against the system that everyone else in the area seems to be falling to, and it is brilliant

There is a group that begins to stir and talk and speak, beginning early in the book -- and, yes, it includes Ambrose. These men despised anyone not like themselves; they tried to rally the community around their own beliefs, trying to drive out anyone that was different, anyone they deemed un-American in their ideals. Unfortunately some of the members of this group were important players in Emmy's life, which is interestingly part of what helped to push Emmy to become more independent - she realized that sometimes people aren't who we think they are and that sometimes things are not as they seem. This created distrust, which is what encouraged her to be more independent, which is really a huge theme of this book. 

The writing is very descriptive, which is why it felt like it took me a little while to finish this story. It is beautifully executed in terms of setting and I absolutely loved the change of pace of this lush Minnesota farming community. I love the characterization equally so. The cast is so robust and developed - all of them, the good guys and the bad guys. Sidenote: I also love that there is a map included because I referred to it so many times as the story moved around through various places in the community. 

Regarding the romance aspect in this story: this is the part of the book that I think surprised me most. There is romance throughout the book, even as everything else is occurring. The romance storyline is something that I could not consider conventional, meaning it isn't really what you think. I went into the story thinking one thing and was surprised a few times with regard to the love interests. I enjoyed this - I honestly did not love every single thing that occurred between the love interests and in the romantic scenes, but readers are not supposed to. As with everything else in the book, the romantic portion of the story and of Emmy's life is all part of her growing-up, her coming-of-age, and I love how it added to everything else to fit together and make the whole of who she was at the end of the book. The Emmy at the beginning vs. the Emmy at the end - I love the growth, and I love the fact that Emmy had no clue at the beginning that she would embark on such a journey. 

I think that there is so much in this story that it would appeal to almost anyone that enjoys adult fiction, as long as they can be patient with the beginning and set-up. I would consider rereading this one for sure, especially given the coming-of-age and the way Emmy embraced her role of growing independence. I'm excited that my curiosity for this particular setting and time period paid off in such a large way - this is a great book. 


A Fireproof Home For The Bride will appeal to fans of:

Historical Fiction
Romance: Several romance story lines as story progresses.
Great Setting: Rural Minnesota

A Fireproof Home For The Bride by Amy Scheibe
is currently available for purchase.


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