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Things We Set on Fire Paperback
by Deborah Reed. Edition Date:: 12/01/2013
A series of tragedies brings Vivvie's young grandchildren into her custody, and her two estranged daughters back under one roof. Jackson, Vivvie’s husband, was shot and killed thirty years ago, and the ramifications have splintered the family into their own isolated remembrances and recriminations.
Sisters Elin and Kate fought mercilessly in childhood and have avoided each other for years. Elin seems like the last person to watch her sister convalesce after an attempted suicide. But Elin has her own reasons for coming to Kate's side and will soon discover Kate’s own staggering needs.
This deeply personal, hauntingly melancholy look at the damages families inflict on each other—and the healing that only they can provide—is filled with flinty, flawed, and complex people stumbling toward some kind of peace. Like Elizabeth Strout and Kazuo Ishiguro, Deborah Reed understands a story, and its inhabitants reveal themselves in the subtleties: the space between the thoughts, the sigh behind the smile, and the unreliable lies people tell themselves that ultimately reveal the deepest truths.
About the Author

In Reed’s engrossing examination of one family’s lifelong meltdown and possible resurrection, Vivien "Vivvie" Fenton’s story begins with a dark implication about the death of her husband 30 years ago in a hunting accident. Vivvie’s two adult daughters, Kate and Elin, have long since flown the coop in desperate efforts to find happiness. When Vivvie receives unexpected word that Kate is in the hospital and that her own two young daughters need someone to come get them, the past and all its wounds threaten to smash everyone’s lives yet again. Elin’s somewhat orderly life on the other side of the country is wildly upset when Vivvie calls her and begs for her help with her two nieces as Kate lingers on the precipice between life and death. The entanglements of a family burdened with dark secrets, personal motives, and an eventual implosion that still rocks each of their lives to the core quickly surface in the face of this new tragedy, propelling the story and its irresistible characters. Suggest this one to fans of Elizabeth Strout.  —Julie Trevelyan
 

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