February 22, 2016

Book Review: The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

I read this book about 3 months ago, and I still keep thinking of it at random times! I recently read this article and this article, both about a family here in Tucson plagued by early-onset Alzheimer's, and I started obsessing about The Things We Keep all over again.

When the book begins, Anna, only 38, has early-onset Alzheimer's. After she causes an accident that burns her five-year-old nephew, she voluntarily goes into assisted living. Understandably embittered by the turn her life has taken, Anna is surprised when she and Luke, another patient with early-onset dementia, find a connection that she thought she'd never feel again. But can Anna and Luke cling to their love, even as their memories of each other slip away?

Eve, whose husband's Ponzi scheme just collapsed with devastating results, is humiliated to have to take a job as a cook and cleaner in an assisted living facility. But Eve soon discovers unexpected hope as she's cooking meals and scrubbing floors. She finds Anna and Luke's love so compelling that she's willing to do anything to help them, even at the cost of alienating their families and hurting her own.

A lovely novel about the depth of memory, The Things We Keep will leave very few readers with dry eyes. It's told in flashbacks and present-day snippets alternating from Anna and Eve's perspectives, allowing the reader to see Anna's mental deterioration first-hand as she starts to use phrases like "sleeping bench" (after she forgets the word bed). Sweet and sad, The Things We Keep is a testament to the endurance of love.

For reals guys, I heartily recommend it - but have tissues handy!

Do YOU like sad books?

I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness. And the cover image is an affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm!