if you unquestioningly accepted the fact that you were to marry the
young farmer you've known all your life . . . until he shows you a dark side
of himself you didn't expect. Would you go through with the marriage,
set your eyes on someone else, or try to go it alone? In the late 1950s,
Emmaline Nelson weighs her choices and their consequences as she tries
to envision her future.
The day after her eighteenth birthday, Emmaline Nelson sat with her spine hovering a good two inches away from the straight, cold back of an oaken pew, her feet planted next to each other on the pine floor, knees pressed together as she'd been taught. Her wool serge skirt should have been cozy, but the nylon slip her mother had insisted she wear crackled like electric ice against her dark stockings from its contact with the charged January air. Her coat hung cold and useless out in the makeshift foyer, where her mother had made her leave it, even though the inside of the church was not much warmer than the air outdoors.—A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe (St. Martin's Press, 2015, p. 9 [Chapter 1 opener])
- Setting: Minnesota & North Dakota, late 1950s
- Circumstances: Emmy grows up in a loveless home and is destined to marry an older local farmer, who is far from sweet & gentle. Calling on her inner strength, she breaks the engagement, leaves her rural home town, and moves in with an estranged aunt to work at a Fargo newspaper. While starting her new life, Emmy not only uncovers some ugly family secrets but is exposed to new ideas and different ways to live.
- Characters: Emmy and her family; Ambrose, her finance; Bobby an ambitious Catholic boy; various teachers, friends, and colleagues
- Genre and audience: coming-of-age, historical fiction; new adult
- Themes: family; love; small town vs. small city; faith; race and gender issues; independence; tolerance
- Why I want to read this: Although some reviewers noted that Scheibe attempts to address a lot of issues in one story, all agreed that this is a winner of a novel. Emmy is easy to care about, the period details are excellent, and the issues are thought provoking.
- Extras: Scheibe grew up in the area in which she sets her novel, adding authenticity to the story. A reading guide is available at the Macmillan/St. Martin's website. For excellent television interview with Scheibe (North Dakota edition of The Today Show), click here.