Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: March 10, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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 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 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."Emmy Nelson, an eighteen year old girl from Minnesota, has her life planned out by her parents and she has no say in her own life. It's 1958, and her parents rule her world; in fact, they have plans to marry her off to Ambrose Brann, a family friend, whom she has known her whole life. This would be all well and good, except Emmy's family has recently moved to a town and she realizes there is so much more to life than being a farmer's wife. One teacher in particular has inspired her to reach higher and she realizes that not everyone lives the way she does with smothering parents and oppressive rules. As Emmy's horizons expand, she is able to go on her first date, go to a party and even get her first job at the switchboard for her local newspaper. Also, as Emmy's learns more about herself and life, she then remembers at the end of this she is to marry Ambrose. Ambrose was an ok guy when they were kids, but now he is a much older man that has strange notions. Not only is he extremely conservative, he is sexist, racist, and violent at times. Emmy wants more for her life, more than Ambrose and his farm, but what can she do? How will she get out of this cage her parents created? A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe is an entertaining glimpse into rural conservative life in the late 1950s as well as a captivating coming of age tale. I was on the edge of my seat with worry for Emmy and was desperate for her to spread her wings and fly far away from it all.
I really loved Emmy in A Fireproof Home for the Bride. She was sweet girl who worked hard and was academically very smart, so in turn, she started to realize there was more to life than what her parents initially presented to her. She lived in a very, very religious world, so she rarely got to experience what teenagers should experience. It was really kind of sad, but once she started to branch out more, I was really happy for her. In fact, she meets someone new that catches her eye to the point where she realizes she has absolutely no future with Ambrose.
Speaking of Ambrose, he was such a villain in A Fireproof Home for the Bride. Ugh. I couldn't stand him. I had enough of his sexism, racism, his comments about Catholics, his violence and his inappropriate behavior towards women. I don't want to give too much away, but he made my blood run cold. I wanted Emmy to get away from him and fast.
The time period is really portrayed well in A Fireproof Home for the Bride. Scheibe did a great job showing how sheltered Emmy's existence was with her parents and juxtaposed it to life outside of her parent's grasp. It's 1958, so there's a lot of racial tension, issues with women's rights, and much more. Even the KKK plays a role in this story, so it's much more than a story of a girl who wants to get out of an engagement. Emmy had high hopes for herself and wants to work at the newspaper. She doesn't want to be someone's puppet, including her parents.
My one issue with this book is all the various plot points. Sometimes it was tough to tie them all together. The beginning was a tad slow, but then the second half moves at lightning speed. There's even a murder mystery plot line in the last half of the book, but nonetheless, I found Emmy's story entertaining.
What is great about A Fireproof Home for the Bride is the fact that it has great cross-over appeal since the main character is eighteen years old and it is essentially a coming-of-age story. Even though Emmy deals with very adult issues, I think older teenagers could appreciate this glimpse into what life might have been like in a rural and religious neighborhood in the fifties. It would no doubt make them appreciate the life they have now.