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Amazon Exclusive: Carla Buckley on The Things That Keep Us Here

The old black and white photographs are haunting.

Rows upon rows of bleak white cots spreading out to the horizon, filled with soldiers suffering not from war injuries, but the effects of a terrible new disease which mankind had never seen before. Many of these young men would die, their lungs swelling with fluid until they choked to death. Back in their hometowns, their family members waged the same helpless battle. Doctors could only treat the symptoms and hope they themselves didn’t fall victim. Governments rushed to impose some sort of order, but only those cities that completely closed their borders suffered fewer casualties. In all, there were three waves of illness, spanning three years and reaching into every corner of the world, and when it had subsided, twenty percent of the world population was gone. The very young and the old were spared; an entire generation had been wiped away with one sweeping blow. The culprit? The flu.

Almost a hundred years have passed since the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918. But despite tremendous medical advances, and our increased understanding of what a virus is and how it spreads, people are almost as vulnerable today as they were back then. Perhaps even more so, given air travel and how small the world has become. There is no cure. We can see the monster, but we can’t stop it.

In 2006, having just moved to a new hometown with my young children, I was particularly susceptible to terrifying reports that the world was overdue for another flu pandemic. This time, it was H5N1, the so-called “bird flu,” that seemed on the verge of mutating into a contagious form, and it had a mortality rate of fifty percent. Half the world? All I could think of were those narrow white cots, stretching out to eternity.

The Things That Keep Us Here is a work of fiction, based on scientific fact, that asks what the world might look like if the very worst happened and a lethal virus raged uncontrolled. It is written from the intimate perspective of one family in middle America, and most of the action takes place within their home. Would people come together or stand apart? How far would they go to save themselves and their loved ones? In the end, The Things That Keep Us Here is less about the power of a virus to reduce humanity to a shadow, and more about the power of the human spirit to remain untouched.

What images would survive from a modern pandemic, and who would be looking at them, a hundred years later? --Carla Buckley

(Photo © Brian Killian)

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Tags

Books, Cafe Libri, Fiction, Children, Family, Pandemic, Plague, Avian Influenza, First Novel, Epidemic, Bird Flu

Details

ISBN-10:  0440245095
ISBN-13:  978-0440245094
Author:  Carla Buckley
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
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review by . October 24, 2010
This novel has it all: page-turning suspense, great characters, a strong plot and themes that stick with you long after the final page. I found it hard to believe that this is Carla Buckley's first novel.      The highlights of the plot have been well described elsewhere, so I will only say that this book is so well written that it is easy to imagine oneself in a similar predicament. In fact, there were actually points in the plot line where I felt my heart pounding as I …
review by . June 13, 2010
Carla Buckley has created a chilling story of domestic horror with her debut novel. The scenario is all too believable and topical - global pandemic of avian flu, and a family's struggles to remain in isolation, deal with food shortages and power outages in the midst of lingering grief and family relationship breakdowns.    The strength of this novel is that it is so believable. The mother deals with the petty frustrations of her house bound children as they cope with what is …
review by . October 11, 2010
Simply Wonderful!
This novel has it all: page-turning suspense, great characters, a strong plot and themes that stick with you long after the final page. I found it hard to believe that this is Carla Buckley's first novel.      The highlights of the plot have been well described elsewhere, so I will only say that this book is so well written that it is easy to imagine oneself in a similar predicament. In fact, there were actually points in the plot line where I felt my heart pounding as I …
review by . April 24, 2010
Wow. This was a terrific story (scary though considering that the H1N1 virus was so publicized this year). The premise is that an avian virus, H5N1, shows up and starts spreading extraordinarily fast with an almost 50% fatality rate. People go from getting some groceries for a short stay at home to realizing that even their neighbors can be a threat to their family's health.     Everyone closes themselves in and goes into survival mode as much of our country's infrastructure …
review by . March 13, 2010
It took me a little bit of time to gather my senses after I'd turned the last pages of this book tonight. I sat silently, halfway between tears and sheer wonderment. I wanted just a few more minutes to soak in this amazing story and how it made me feel. When I sat down earlier this evening to read, I was in the last half of the book but nowhere near the end; when my usual hour of reading came to an end, I found that couldn't bear to put the book down. The next hour came and went, and still I couldn't …
review by . February 17, 2010
Considering all the media time devoted during the last year to the possibility, if not probability, of H1N1 or bird flu pandemics, it is surprising that so few novels have yet been written about the societal breakdown that might accompany either event. Catastrophe of that magnitude offers fertile ground to those writing in several genres: horror, science fiction, romance, literary novel, etc. - so it is only a matter of time, I suspect, before such novels appear in large numbers. "The Things That …
review by . February 09, 2010
Amazing. Absolutely amazing, engrossing and thought provoking. These are words that quickly and simply come to mind when I think of The Things That Keep Us Here. It, quite frankly, blows my mind that this is a debut novel by Carla Buckley. It is incredibly well written, tight, emotional, well-researched and so true-to-life (or what could easily happen in life, right now) that I would expect such work to be written by a veteran author. No, The Things That Keep Us Here is not a laid back, fun, kick-off-your-shoes …
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