Review – Five Floors Up by Brian McDonald

Posted October 21, 2022 by Carole in Reviews / 7 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review – Five Floors Up by Brian McDonaldFive Floors Up by Brian McDonald
Narrator: P.J. Ochlan, Brian McDonald
Published by Grand Central Publishing on September 6, 2022
Genres: Biography & Autobiography / Fire & Emergency Services
Length: 9 hours 48 minutes
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Purchased
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

Rescue Me meets Blue Bloods in this riveting social history of the New York City Fire Department told from the perspective of the Feehan family, who served in the FDNY for four generations and counting.

Seen through the eyes of four generations of a firefighter family, Five Floors Up the story of the modern New York City Fire Department. From the days just after the horse-drawn firetruck, to the devastation of the 1970s when the Bronx was Burning, to the unspeakable tragedy of 9/11, to the culture-busting department of today, a Feehan has worn the shoulder patch of the FDNY. The tale shines the spotlight on the career of William M. Feehan. “Chief” Feehan is the only person to have held every rank in the FDNY including New York City’s 28th Fire Commissioner. He died in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. But Five Floors Up is at root an intimate look at a firefighter clan, the selflessness and bravery of not only those who face the flames, but the family members who stand by their sides. Alternately humorous and harrowing, rich with anecdotes and meticulously researched and reported, Five Floors Up takes us inside a world few truly understand, documenting an era that is quickly passing us by. 

I liked this book! If you have been following my reviews for any amount of time, you have probably noticed that I am a fairly eclectic reader but I tend to stay within the realm of fiction. Every once in a while, I am drawn to a non-fiction title and it is usually books that tell the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things that I choose to pick up. This book features not just one member of the Feehan family but 4. I learned a lot about the history of the New York Fire Department along with some of the experiences this family has had while doing the job.

As a general rule, I don’t cry over books. I have cried while reading but it is not a common occurrence. For the first time in quite a few years, I found a book that made me cry. This novel touches on 9/11 early on and it really transported me back to that day. I vividly remember watching that second plane hit while packing my lunch to go to work, knowing how terrible it was. Only to realize how much worse it could be when those towers fell. This book made that scene come alive and I guess it is safe to say that I am not completely over those feelings from that time.

This book covers a lot of ground going back to the very early days of NYFD to 9/11 and after. There were some events that were touched on that I remember making the national news when they occurred but it was eye opening to get the perspective of someone tasked with dealing with these scenarios. I liked the camaraderie that the members of the fire department shared and how serious they were about their responsibilities. There was some politics in the discussions of how the department has changed over the years which I found interesting.

P.J. Ochlan did a great job with the narration of this book. I believe that this is my first experience in listening to this narrator but I thought that he was a good choice for this particular book. I found his voice to be pleasant and I had no problems listening to this book for hours at a time, except that one time that I stopped to cry for a bit.

I think that a lot of readers will find this book interesting. There are photos in the hardcover which really help to make the members of this family come to life. I am glad that I decided to give this book a try.

I received a review copy of this book from Grand Central publishing and purchased a copy of the audiobook.

7 responses to “Review – Five Floors Up by Brian McDonald

  1. This sounds like an interesting read and one that would make me cry as well. I was in college when 9/11 happened and remember it vividly. I saw something on the search dogs that went in to the towers for recovery on this anniversary and sobbed like a baby.