Book Review: Smoke
Published By: Lake Union
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Fiction
Smoke mainly revolves around two women in a small Colorado town that is battling a wild fire and trying to save the things they hold dearest. Elizabeth is a thirty something whose marriage has hit a snag due to trust issues and fertility complications. Elizabeth isn't sure how things with her husband, Ben, will end up, but the one thing she knows for certain is that fire is in her blood and as the flames inch closer to her home she will do everything in her power to keep the destruction at bay. As Elizabeth battles flames and a crumbling marriage, Mindy, her former best friend, is fighting her own battles. She feels like she's losing her children and trying to fit in with the other parents at the elite high school her kids attend exhausts her. Mindy has devoted her entire life to her family, but she finds that maybe at some point she should have done more for herself.
Smoke is told through both Elizabeth and Mindy's perspectives. It was interesting to see how they had different responses to the fire and the townspeople. I also felt for each of their situations with their families. The fire seemed to be a symbol for the destruction that was plowing through the lives of both women. They had to find the means to put out the flames or suffer the consequences.
McKenzie's writing never fails to speak to me. She breathes life into her characters and tackles realistic situations with finesse. I was hooked on this one after the first chapter. Smoke, aside from containing characters I was fond of, also contained an air of mystery. It's unclear until the final chapters exactly who started the fire. I found myself trying to piece everything together along with Elizabeth and Mindy.
Relationships - not just the romantic variety - dominate this story. It was interesting to see how the strong ones and the dysfunctional ones played out. I kept rooting for both Elizabeth and Mindy to find their happy endings in spite of the chaos that was swirling around them. I also felt that the emphasis on teen bullying in this one was realistic and important. Angus situation in the novel also pulled at me and made me want to help him in some way.
In the end, I found that in their own ways, both Elizabeth and Mindy were extremely brave women. I don't know that I would have shown as much courage and tenacity in their situations.
One Last Gripe: I was frustrated that Elizabeth was always rushing into danger without thinking about her health or how it would affect Ben.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I don't live in an area where forest fires are common. I was interested to learn more about how these issues are tackled.
First Sentence: Smoke.
Favorite Character: Elizabeth
Least Favorite Character: Tucker
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.