Author: Eric Wilson (based on screenplay by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick)
Thickness: 284 pages
Tagline: “Never Leave Your Partner”
Novelizations are always tricky books to review. If you enjoyed the movie, you could be making unfair comparisons – almost always able to find those little details to critic the book. If you didn’t like the movie, you could be reading it to find obvious points not featured in the movie that made it so bad. Thankfully, I was able to escape from this double trap when I read Fireproof because I kept missing the all the screenings when Astro was showing it quite a while back.
All I heard about Fireproof was that the movie was created by the same people who brought us the inspirational movie Facing the Giants, which was quite a sleeper hit, considering the budget they used to produced it. So honestly, I never knew what quite to expect when I bought the book, except that it would be something inspirational.
Fireproof is a simple and inspirational story about love, marriage and what Caleb Holt did to fight for them. Caleb, a captain of a fire brigade, spends most of his time fighting fires and saving lives of strangers. Unknown to most people, his marriage of seven years to Catherine is also on fire – of a different kind. The anger and resentment they have for each other eventually reached its breaking point and put their marriage on the brink of divorce.
However, before the divorce papers were filed, Caleb’s father confronts his son and challenges him to perform a 40-day challenge called ‘The Love Dare’. It essentially requires Caleb to perform one task for one day for his wife for the next 40 days.
For the next forty days, Caleb commits himself to the challenge and tries to rescue the heart of the woman he loves and also save his marriage and making it…fireproof!
Quite an interesting premise, if you asked me. 😀
Novelizations have always been quite fun to read, simply because there is plenty of dialogue in those pages. It may seem pretty easy to rip those dialogues from the screen and compile them into a book. However, I would like to believe that the main challenge of novelizations is in creating the back story so that it fills the gaps that is not found in the movie version. And that portion is done pretty well by Eric Wilson.
The other challenge of novelizations are the descriptive bits, which is important as the writer tries to tie the story back to its original screenplay. Whilst sounding mundane sometimes (especially when you read about the colours of the shirt, type of hair, body build, skin colour, etc.), Eric manages to bring out all the characters from the screen to the pages pretty well. The writing has good humour and the action bits are very well described to heighten the tension.
The portions about the relationship between Caleb and Catherine and their characters were very believable to the point that I found myself wanting to knock some senses into Caleb’s head in the first portion of the book. As the book wore on, I then found myself rooting for Caleb as he tried to fight for the love of his wife. Pretty good stuff.
The other highlight about the book is ‘The Love Dare’. Whilst the book (sadly) does not detail out all 40 challenges, it does provide a glimpse into some of these challenges which I feel is really relevant and helpful in making all relationships fireproof. Some examples of these invaluable and inspirational relationship insights is extracted below:
Day 1: Love is Patient (based on Ephesians 4:2)
The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.
Day 18: Love Seeks to Understand (based on Proverbs 3:13)
Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you. The dinner can be as nice as you prefer. Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you’ve rarely talked about. Determine to make it an enjoyable evening for you and your mate.
You can read the complete 40-day challenges from the actual book, The Love Dare!
There are also quite a number of memorable quotes from the book that I will always remember, like:
“Salt and pepper are completely different. Their makeup is different; their taste and their color. But you always see ’em together. When two people get married; it’s for better or for worse, for richer or for poor, in sickness and in health. (after glueing them together)..If you pull them apart now, you’ll break either one or both of them..”
“When a man is trying to win the heart of a woman, he studies her. He learns her likes, dislikes, habits and hobbies. But after he wins her heart and marries her, he often stops learning about her. If the amount he studied her before marriage was equal to a High School Degree, he should continue to learn about her until he gains a College Degree, a Master’s Degree and ultimately a Doctorate Degree. It is a Lifelong Journey that draws his heart ever closer to hers.”
I also think the title of the book/movie was cleverly thought off, as it was written against the backdrop of a main character who is a fire fighter who is also fighting to make his relationship fireproof.
Glue Factor (difficulty of putting the book down!)
Personally, I had difficulty putting down the book, mainly because the chapters flew by so fast, thanks to the bulk of the book which is dialogue-based. The curiosity of seeing what’s the next challenge for Caleb also provided the pull factor to continue reading it.
Last but not least, I also enjoyed the humour and other side stories like the friendly banter between all the firemen, the funny encounters with their neighbour, and the gossiping staff at the hospital where Catherine works.
I would highly recommend for everyone who is in a relationship, about to embark on a relationship, sustaining a marriage and even for those who want to know more about what real love in a relationship is like.
Okok, I believe it is a wonderful book for everyone.
For the simple reason that the book allows us to reflect on the challenges faced in any relationship, and getting great ideas from the Love Dare on working on the relationship and making it fireproof.
After all, Fireproof is much more than just an inspirational book – it is a book about love, and why it is something worth fighting for.