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A Fireproof Home for the Bride Summary and Reviews

A Fireproof Home for the Bride

by Amy Scheibe

A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe X
A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2015
    384 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

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 1960s, Emmy doesn't see that she has any say in her life, any choices at all. Only when Emmy's fiancé 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 severe 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.

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. The setting is Kent Haruf, but the heroine is pure Annie Proulx.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Scheibe's multilayered plot feels organic: the strands are knitted into a tight story of substance that touches on the politics of race, class, and gender without coming off as too preachy. There are a few small flaws: Emmy, for instance, seems awfully progressive for someone who has known nothing but her dour, religious family, and influential bestie Bev abruptly drops out of the story, but overall, the book is spectacular." - Publishers Weekly

"The narrative drags somewhat in the middle, but the action picks up again as Emmy hurtles through wintry obstacles (without her boots) toward an ending that is as neat as a well-darned sock." - Library Journal

"A good coming-of-age story lies buried underneath a ridiculously overdetermined and didactic plot." - Kirkus

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Reader Reviews

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Therese X. (Calera, AL)

A powerful, engrossing novel of Fifties America
In late 1950's Minnesota, young Emmy Nelson, a child of a strict Christian family, soon begins to see life differently than her family who have chosen her future husband, Ambrose, from the established Brann family to maintain the status quo of land, family and patriotic beliefs. Wanting to postpone the inevitable she studies hard, does well in school, yet knowing there has to be more to life, than her narrow future. With the help of her school counselor, Mr. Utke, she takes a job at the local movie house which leads to a newspaper gig. And she reads 'forbidden novels" which tell of exciting lives outside her own. Emmy also has the usual teenage fun with friends, going over to Fargo to dance, smoke and have a drink or two when her life makes a heart-lurching turn. She meets the stunningly handsome and obviously smitten Bobby Doyle and the fact that he's Catholic doesn't deter her as she puts aside the strict views of her upbringing.

Soon, Emmy learns that life is more complex than she thought when her ex-fiancé, Ambrose, suddenly reveals a cruel, ugly side that drives her away-- and groups are forming to keep that part of America "straight" in the face of social changes. When fires are set to drive out "unsuitable people" who are a threat to the "Brann family way of life", the brewing racism and entrenched nationalism create drama and destruction that threaten the future.

The 1950s ambiance of this novel comes through in a light way initially, but eventually the ugly truth of social unrest that most people thought happened only "down South" make this novel both a page turner and an eye-opener. The writer delves into how families bond and how they break apart and the characters and events are so deeply realized, they stay with the reader after the final page.

Sharon P. (Jacksonville, FL)

a fireproof home for the bride (title on book in lower case)
Emmaline Nelson is an 18 year old, naïve small town girl whose mother has planned for years for her her to marry a local farmer six years her senior. At first Emma accepts this,going along with the plans until second thoughts cause her to wonder if there are other options. Some under handed activities of her fiancé and his friends worry her.

She meets a handsome young man her age and falls for him, but later realizes he will probably not marry her.

Her family puts a great deal of pressure on her until she moves to another relative's home.

Getting a job at the local newspaper office may be her salvation.

Good story with enough twists to pique your curiosity.

Vy A. (Phoenix, AZ)

A Fireproof Home for the Bride
A Fireproof Home for the Bride is a gentle read, yet it deals with volatile issues such as racism of the 50's, corrupt politics, immigration and religious differences. It is a coming-of-age for Emmeline Nelson whose future seems to be cast in stone by her parents and community, yet she is a rebellious strong character who struggles to succumb to the mundane life they have chosen for her. The author has effectively captured the feelings of a young girl torn between obedience and the lure of independence, as well as the first yearnings of love and sexual awakening. The setting of rural Minnesota is described with such vivid detail that this reader felt the effect the weather has on our feelings and thoughts. The minor characters are very believable with their motivations justifying their actions, often deplorable. If you are a child of the 50's, you'll also enjoy the many references to the music , fashions and trends of the times. I would recommend this book for the above reasons and because Ms. Scheibe has created a heroine in Emmy that we care about. We keep turning the pages to see if she is, indeed, the architect of her young life.

Diane W. (Lake Villa, IL)

Fireproof Home for the Bride
How times have changed...but I'm old enough to have a true sense of all that has evolved over the past 60 years for our society, and particularly, women. The struggle for gender equity has caused some change, but some things in our Midwest still exist...bias, prejudice, religious disconnections --- sometimes hooded, but still in place. I really enjoy this book and revisiting those decades with reflection. I agree with some others that it was a slow start...but I kept going and truly enjoyed this read!

Dawhymae

A Fireproof Home for the Bride
Wow, I actually grew up in southern Minnesota, and was born in the late 50's, so this really resonated with me. I was surprised about the KKK being alive and well in the area. I liked reading about the 50's, and her take on racism and immigration. Great book!

Trezeline B. (Columbia, MD)

A Fireproof Home for the Bride
What a wonderful book. You can actually see the story build to a tremendous climax. A satisfied, enjoyable, and page turning read. I loved this book.

...38 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Amy Scheibe

Amy Scheibe is also the author of What Do You Do All Day? and a former editor at a New York City publishing house. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

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