|
Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Things That Keep Us Here » User review

A Matter of Time?

  • Feb 17, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+3
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 Keep Us Here," Carla Buckley's debut novel, is one of those books. Buckley's novel combines elements of more than one genre to show what might happen if the world were suddenly forced to deal with a highly contagious flu virus capable of killing half of the people it infects.

Peter, a veterinary science researcher, and Ann Brooks have been separated for a year. The two seem headed for divorce but, for now, Ann has gone back to work as an elementary school art teacher and she is helping her thirteen and eight-year-old daughters cope with the change in their lives. Part of Peter's job is to monitor the bird activity on a nearby Ohio lake for any signs of illness in the thousands of ducks and geese making it their temporary home. When, early one morning, he finds a massive bird kill on the lake, Peter suspects that the ducks have been killed by avian flu and he can only hope that the virus has not mutated to a form capable of infecting human victims.

Almost before Peter can confirm his worst fears about the virus strain, the country finds itself bracing for an invasion of a flu virus even more deadly than the one that killed millions during World War I. Columbus, Ohio, shuts down its schools and tells its citizens to prepare to isolate themselves until the worst is over. The resulting mad scramble for food, water and medical supplies brings out the absolute worst in some but is only a mild preview of what is to come.

Peter, along with his exotically beautiful graduate student, a young Egyptian woman with no other place to go, moves in with Ann and the girls for the duration. Within days, the city loses power during a massive snow storm and all communication with the outside world is cut off. Grocery stores open only upon receipt of random deliveries and, when the city water supply is contaminated, running out of food and bottled water becomes a distinct possibility. On the one hand, sheer boredom becomes a problem for everyone inside the Brooks home. On the other, life boils down to a struggle to stay warm and to survive on a rapidly diminishing supply of food and water. Nothing else matters.

Buckley's focus on what the Brooks family sees with its own eyes comes at the expense of the bigger picture. What happens in one Columbus neighborhood is interesting - and horrifying - but it is only one neighborhood. Rather than giving some hint as to what might be happening to the national and state governments, the military, and government emergency agencies, Buckley concentrates on things like family loyalty, individual courage, core values, guilt and forgiveness as she delves deeply into the Brooks family history. Despite the detailed back story and interesting conflicts provided, however, the main characters tend to fall surprisingly flat and their ultimate fates are not hard to predict. Some readers will be satisfied with the romance novel elements of the book; others will wish Buckley had explored more of what this kind of pandemic would mean to the country, and the world, as a whole. As it is, what Buckley describes about human nature under these circumstances is not far different from the behavior shown in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

What did you think of this review?

Helpful
3
Thought-Provoking
3
Fun to Read
3
Well-Organized
3
Post a Comment
More The Things That Keep Us Here reviews
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 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 …
About the reviewer
Sam Sattler ()
Ranked #254
Oil company professional of almost 40 years experience who has worked in oil-producing countries around the world. I love books, baseball and bluegrass music and hope to dedicate myself to those hobbies … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

You
SamSattler
Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this book

Wiki

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...

view wiki

Tags

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

Details

ISBN-10: 0440245095
ISBN-13: 978-0440245094
Author: Carla Buckley
Publisher: Delacorte Press

First to Review

"An absolute must-read!"
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists