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The Things We Keep Bets On...

The Things We Keep

January 2016

I first discovered Sally Hepworth with her book, THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES. I knew then that she was an author to watch. In THE THINGS WE KEEP, Sally creates a terrific multi-layered story with interesting characters. In it, Anna Forster is just 38 years old and in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. She moves into Rosalind House, an assisted living facility, where she can be kept safe as her mind unravels. There she finds Luke, a resident who is close to her age, whose mind is unraveling with another disease. Love is an emotion that overrides the loss of memory, and Anna draws closer and closer to Luke.

Eve Bennett is a single mom, who is cooking for the residents of Rosalind House. She observes Anna and Luke, and cherishes their feelings for one another, even as their circumstances get complicated. There are characters who stay with you, and these are some of them. While I am a huge fan of STILL ALICE (the book and the movie), I confess that I did not know Alzheimer’s could affect people in their 30s. Likewise, I also did not know that depth perception issues were signs of a deteriorating brain problem. Of course, every time I hesitate heading down the stairs, I now wonder if something is awry, as much as I loathe not remembering a person’s name!

A friend’s mom has Alzheimer’s, and she has been in bad shape for years, calling him by her brother’s name, Neil. One day, clear as anything, she called him by his name, Scott, and spent the next half hour telling him how horrific the disease is and how she wanted him to help her end her life. She described what it was like when she cannot organize her mind. What it is like being on the outside looking in. Which is why when Anna went through that same thing with her brother, Jack, it felt so very real. Scott said it completely jarred him. The next day, his mom called him Neil again and there was no connection. He wished he had that exchange on video so he could see it was real, though it was excruciatingly sad.

I wondered about this. Back in June, when I finished reading an advance copy of THE THINGS WE KEEP, through her editor Sally shared, “It's very common for people with Alzheimer's to have these sudden moments of clarity. These lucid moments are a miracle and tragedy all at once.”

Reading THE THINGS WE KEEP is a joy. It’s a look at human emotion and the will of the human spirit. It will make for a terrific book group discussion!

The Things We Keep
by Sally Hepworth

  • Publication Date: January 17, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250051924
  • ISBN-13: 9781250051929