Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: The Things We Keep

The Things We Keep
By Sally Hepworth
Published: January 19, 2016

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

My review:

This is not the first book I've read featuring a protagonist with early onset Alzheimer's but in the case of Still Alice, the main character had just turned 50 when she was diagnosed. Anna is 38 and maybe because we are about the same age, I could put myself more easily in her shoes. Anna is at the prime of her life when the disease takes over. She used to be an adventurous person and a successful paramedic but now she lives at Rosalind House where the other residents are elderly with the exception of Luke who has a different kind of dementia. Anna has a twin brother Jack who does not have the disease Anna inherited from their mother. She also has a father who has been out of their lives since they were young. 

It is sad to see Anna's decline even as she begins a clandestine relationship with Luke, whom she refers to as "Young Guy" because she can't remember his name.  The book moves back and forth between the present time and months earlier when Anna and Luke first became a couple. There are some secrets that are revealed slowly to the reader since Anna doesn't remember what happened. 

The other main character is Eve, a single mother with a sad past. I felt bad for Eve and the way people in the town treated her and her daughter Clementine. It was awful and I thought Eve was brave in trying to protect her daughter from it. Eve could be naive when it came to the people at Rosalind House, especially Anna, but she meant well. Clementine is a sweet and precocious girl and I loved her interactions with the seniors at Rosalind House.The secondary characters were fun. I liked Clara and Laurie and especially Bert who could be prickly but kept his wife's memory alive and had a sweet grandfatherly relationship with Clem.

While I really liked this book and it made me think about how I would feel in Anna's situation, I didn't feel quite the same emotional punch that I had when reading Still Alice. That could be because the book was told through Eve's perspective as well as Anna's. I did like how the novel explored the idea of how people love and how that ability to care about another person at such a deep level doesn't fade even though memory might. Overall I thought this was a worthwhile read and I think book groups would find much to discuss.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. Great review! This book does seem like a great option for a book group. Alzheimer's disease is so, so sad, but I think how more books are tackling this tough subject. I still need to read Still Alice. Thanks for putting this book on my radar, Christina!

  2. Interesting pov, especially when compared to Still Alice. I felt like I haven't read a book about this topic in a long time, and I think it's so important to talk about it. Maybe I'll try it out.

  3. God, I think I would cry so much when reading this one. Alzheimer's disase is so sad. :(

    Majanka @ I Heart Reading.


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