Tag Archives: trauma

The Things We Keep

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I found “The Things We Keep” to be an emotional adventure. Months after finishing it, I still think about the main characters and what happened to them, especially Anna. See what you think…

Coping with Alzheimer’s is hard enough with adults over the age of 65. In The Things We Keep, the main character Anna, realizes in her late 30’s that she has a form of the disease, and decides she should live in an assisted care to avoid harming herself or her family. While there she meets Luke, another younger person facing a different form of Alzheimer’s, and the two develop a relationship, much to the surprise and dissatisfaction of her twin who is not affected by the disease. Anna and Luke’s friendship slowly evolves while her capacities deteriorate, adding some unexpected dimension and plot lines to the story.

A separate storyline involves a woman named Eve, who is facing her own obstacles after her husband defrauded people through a Ponzi Scheme. Facing life after privilege, finding a job, a new home, and trying to raise a daughter while coping with the aftermath are all pretty tough. Eve finds work at the assisted living care facility where Anna lives, and eventually, their lives intersect.

The book’s chapters alternate between the two different stories, as well as in the past and present, which gives the reader insight into the main character’s decisions, actions, and behaviors. I liked each plot, though as I was reading each, it was at times hard when a chapter ended, and I had to switch gears for a different character or time period. Emotionally, I felt awful for Anna, Eve, and Eve’s daughter. The losses they faced were not caused by anything they did, yet they had to deal with the fallout. There is a sense of injustice throughout the book, yet it is largely resolved by the end.

I think this book would be very good for book clubs, as well as for someone facing adversity or unexpected challenges. The author does a good job conveying feelings, and the reader leaves satisfied.

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Books with alternate realities

Have you ever wondered about parallel lives? Is it true that we could be living different versions of the same life, at the same time? These books explore what happens when there is a trauma, and as a result, the main character steps out of her daily life and into an alternative one. Ultimately, each time, she has to decide which life is true and which one is where she belongs. See if you can identify with the title character in any of these.

The Bookseller (2015) by Cynthia Swanson introduces us to a woman living two lives, and she does not know which is real and which is her dream life. The book starts out in one life and introduces a dream world, only to have them intersect, cross over and ultimately collide. The reader does not know which world is real and which is not, until the very end. Takes place in the 1960’s, which adds another dimension to the story.

Then and Always  (2014) by Dani Atkins documents the life of a young woman who faces tragedy and lives to tell the tale after a bad accident. Her life is stuck though and after another incident sends her to the hospital, she finds herself living a life she does not recall. Yet she does not have amnesia. She does not know which life is true and neither do we. The ending is bittersweet, yet also fitting for the story.

The Lost  (2014) by Sarah Beth Durst finds main character Lauren discovering a world that does not make sense, while she comes to terms with having a terminally ill mother. She faces adversity while living in a town only known as Lost and has to learn how to take care of herself, for the first time in her life. Only then, will she be able to return home. First in a trilogy, The Lost ends in a cliffhanger; the Missing follows in Fall 2015, and I am looking forward to reading it.

Cecilia Ahern’s There’s No Place Like Here  (2009) explores what happened to someone who disappears without a trace. Where could the person have gone? Sandy spends her life finding missing people, objects, etc. until one day, she too, goes missing and winds up in a land filled with everything and everyone we have lost at one point in our lives (socks, baby blankets, baseballs, as well as people and pets). At first, I thought The Lost and this book had very similar plots, but they do have enough different aspects to make them both good reads.

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Filed under fiction, mystery