Other Fires is a character-driven story. Each character has their chapters. This format gives the reader that character’s perspective. Instead of reading a book, the characters tell the story. Each character is well defined.
Terpe is a third-grade girl. The older of two children in this family. The other child is a baby girl. Terpe and her mother Joss are the main characters. This book tells their story through the eyes of a kid and the eyes of a woman. Joss grows through introspective thinking while Terpe sees life as more black and white. Right and wrong.
Phil is the father/husband. At the beginning of Other Fires, this family of four’s house goes up in flames in the middle of the night. Phil sustains severe head and brain injuries landing him in the hospital and rehab for the duration of the story. When Phil is ready to see people, he swears Joss is not his wife. She’s an imposter. He remembers everyone else. This medical condition following an injury to the brain does exist. The choices Phil has made since Joss and he had the second baby girl very questionable, to say the least.
Other Fires is about how this family gets through this crisis. Adam is an electrician hired to work on the burned up part of the house. Adam is quite a character himself. He’s a bachelor living alone.
The thing about this book is how well the characters are written. You meet them for the first time when their first chapter appears. It’s natural to form an opinion as each character develops. All the characters are very complex.
Each character comes to life on their own and as seen through the other characters. Terpe tells about her friends. Joss, her mom, has a surprisingly different take on these friends. Adam, on his own, comes off as slow. Surprisingly, he is a different person when he meets Joss. It seems every chapter has something surprising in it.
I found this book stunning. The saying don’t judge a book by its cover is the only way to describe this book. A love story. A tragedy. Very unpredictable and suspenseful.