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

An amazing story: not always easy to read, but definitely worth reading!

  • Mar 13, 2010
Rating:
+5
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 stop. So I kept reading until it was done.

This story, the microcosm of one family's struggle during a bird flu pandemic, is so well written that it felt real to me. I had visceral reactions when family members saw or experienced harrowing, even horrifying, things as the world (and some people) went haywire. That is what a really good book can do. It picks you up and sweeps you into its world, not just as a casual observer, but as a living, breathing part of the story.

As may be expected with a pandemic, there is death and hardship and the things the characters have always taken for granted can no longer be taken for granted. The luxuries they're used to no longer exist. Resources are scarce. No one can be trusted because they might be infected. The goal is no longer to live well...but just to stay alive.

Somehow, the author found a way to imbue her story, her characters (and this reader) with hope throughout most of the story...against all odds....so that reading it isn't a depressing, totally bleak experience. Sure, there is desperation, fear, sadness...but it is grounded by the love of this family. While I often felt strong emotion while reading it, I never found the book weepy.

Don't let the bleak subject matter deter you from reading this book--you'd be missing an incredibly rich reading experience if you did. While it's only March, I have a strong feeling that this book will still be at or near the top of the list of my favorite books of 2010 when the year comes to a close.

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March 14, 2010
Great book review, Sheri! I love books and movies that move me to a powerful emotion during or after completion. This sounds like a tough book to get through because of the subject matter, but I'll have to check it out in the near future!
March 14, 2010
Thank you, Adrianna. There are a number of moral dilemmas that the characters face in the story, as one may imagine with the subject matter, and those can be tough but definitely impactful. I love a book that makes me care deeply about what happens, and this one definitely did.
March 14, 2010
Yeah, me too! I could tell that you cared deeply from your review! There was so much emotion attached to it. I'll have to read this one when I'm in the right mindset.
 
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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 . 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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Sheri ()
Ranked #71
I have been a customer reviewer on Amazon.com for well over a decade and an Amazon Vine reviewer since the program began. I enjoy writing product reviews that will help customers make a buying decision. … more
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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...

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Tags

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

Details

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

First to Review

"An absolute must-read!"
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