Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: Smoke

“Smoke. Everything about it had always meant being away to her, so now that she was safe at home, it was a smell that didn't track.”



Elizabeth is an arson investigator who's life is in chaos right now. She is debating leaving her husband Ben, and dealing with a massive wildfire that has recently grow out of control. She has been a career firefighter for almost a decade. She was once a forest firefighter. It is in her blood. This one lies in the heart of her town, right in their own backyard even.

When Elizabeth is forced to evacuate she is faced with going back to her in-law's house. They have just decided to divorce and now have to pretend to be happy and loving again. This is sort of an issue I have about this book. Elizabeth is the complete opposite of me. She is constantly nagging her husband, wanting to change him, argue with him. This she even admits, but yet dwells on it. Maybe I am being too simplistic when I think she could have solved things by just cooling off her jets.

The character of Elizabeth is one I had a love-hate relationship with. She was a down-home, small town girl. Desperate to be a mother, one who desired the love of her husband. Extremely independent and brutally honest to a fault. She was a mixed of emotions and a constant over analyzer.

At the same time, I didn't feel like the author explored Ben and Elizabeth's relationship enough. There wasn't enough backstory,  and everything in the present felt tense. It caused me to think several times throughout the book, that maybe they should get a divorce. I mean if they are so unhappy, that would be the best thing to do? I do believe that you should want to fight

The story actually is told from two different perspectives, two different women, Elizabeth and Mindy. They couldn't be more different but at one point they were  friends. Now, they just completely ignore each other. All those years disappearing into the abbess of anger.


Mindy is a perfect housewife, married to a man named Peter. She is the "Susie homemaker" of the book. She has two teenagers named Carrie and Angus. She loves her children. She is the typical worry wart and protector of them. She feels lost, though. She feels entirely disconnected from her children and life. Living life on auto-pilot is seems as if she could fade right into nothingness.

Unfortunately, I really feel like Mindy's character was extremely weak and failed to really be described. She was a worried housewife and thats about it. It just seemed very stereotypical in my opinion.

We aren't told right away why Mindy and Elizabeth went their separate ways. It is sort of left as a teaser of things to come. All we are told in the beginning is that she misses Elizabeth and struggles with the companionship of her new ones.

This type of story telling is new to me. I found it jumping from the present, where they are trying to solve the mystery of the fire, to the past where we are learning exactly who our characters are. The transitions are the various chapter titles.

This is the type of story that will captivate you. I found myself completely thrown into the story. I felt like Elizabeth and Mindy were my friends. I could imagine going through the fire, being evacuated. My heart ached when they were sad, I laughed when they laughed. Any book that makes you forget time, is a perfect book.

What would have made this better would have added more into the story other than the women? I know we get a special perspective in the end but I would have loved to hear the story from Ben, Angus, or even Tuckers side.

I also think many themes were introduced and then quickly dismissed. It seemed to sort of meander around topics and never really hit on anyone. This brings me to the ending. I really enjoyed the ending, I still have some issues with it.

The confession seemed rushed and tied up. I really think the story was way to descriptive in the middle and the author realized she had to finish the novel. It was a bit of a surprise ending but not really. I sort of had already figured it out. 

I bought this book with kindle unlimited and I am so glad I did! 

Goodreads Description: 

From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in for a quieter life with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce, and when a fire started in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation. 

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

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