Things We Set on Fire by Deborah Reed – Sisters to the end

ThingsWeSetOnFireToday is Thanksgiving here in the United States and the holiday for me brings back lots of memories and traditions. Sitting in front of the TV watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sifting through the ads in the newspaper making Christmas lists for my mother’s Black Friday shopping spree, coming with elaborate games for the kids to play down in my grandmother’s basement to keep everyone out of the adults hair while they cooked the meal and falling asleep on the living room floor to the sounds of NFL Football on the TV.

What I remember most about Thanksgiving is that all of these activities included my sister. Only 18 months younger than me, my sister and I were always together. We played sports together, read books together and played Barbies together. We both fell in love in New Kids on the Block, Punky Brewster and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker movie. But as much as we did together, we’re completely different from one another. My sister is sporty, direct and hesitant to go too far out of her comfort zone. I am bookish, intelligent and always up for trying new things even if there’s no guarantee as to how it will turn out.

Deborah Reed’s new book, Things We Set on Fire has two sisters who are as different from each other as my sister and I. Growing up in Orlando, FL wasn’t easy for Elin and Kate especially after their father was killed in a freak hunting accident. Elin and Kate haven’t gotten along since that day and eventually Elin moved across the country to escape her family. The strangeness of that day and the things that Elin saw before they were informed of her father’s death will haunt the family for years to come.

The book begins when Kate’s mother receives a call to come pick up her grandchildren as Kate was hospitalized. Not knowing what to do with the kids, she calls Elin who lives in Oregon to come down and help care for two girls. When Elin arrives, we find out that Kate left her husband and has been raising her two girls alone while coping with ALS. Now Kate has progressed to the point where she’s ready to pass away and her two girls need someone to take care of them after Kate is gone.

Kate states she wants Elin to take care of the girls, but will she step up to the plate? Will the girls’ father re-enter the picture now that Kate is gone? Will Elin’s mother ever come clean about the mystery that surrounded her husband’s death?

You can’t help but wish for a happy ending for this family. An easy read, this book was finished within a week and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the girls. I also hoped for a reconciliation between Kate and Elin before it was too late. I think this book will leave you with and ending you weren’t expecting, but an end that will be just as satisfying as the one you wanted. After all, you can’t beat the love and camaraderie that exists between sisters no matter how different they are.

Do you always root for a happy ending in the books you read or do you like it when things are left unresolved?

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