The Things We Keep: A Novel
About the Book:
Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.
This is a book about loss. Anna is losing her memories, and with them, her intelligence and ability to function. Eve has lost her husband and her lifestyle. Clementina is Eve's daughter. She has lost her father, her home, and who knows what else. This book is also about hanging onto what is important; a man who still sees his dead wife with him, the love of family and the love of a man and a woman for each other.
The story is told in chapters by either Anna, Eve or Clementina. From Eva and Clementina's viewpoint the story start when Eva's husband is caught running a Ponzi scheme and commits suicide. This makes her a social pariah and she loses her upper class lifestyle overnight. Trying to minimize the change to her daughter's life, Eve gets a job at an assisted living facility in her daughter's school district (since she can't afford a house there) as a cook since she went to culinary school. She is also asked to fill a cleaning position "temporarily". She gets to know the residents, including Anna and Luke, who are two people in their thirties who are suffering from forms of senile dementia.
Anna and Luke met at Rosalind House, the assisted care facility. They are young people who, in the beginning, realize what is happening to them and where it will lead. They are also young people who fall in love. Because of things that happen, their families ask that they be kept apart, but Eve thinks this is wrong.
Clementina knows that her beloved father has died, but she does not know about his crime or his suicide. Unfortunately, one of the girls at school makes sure she learns. Clementina spends time with her mother at Rosalind House so we see the residents through the eyes of a young girl. We also see her adjusting to a new apartment, not being part of the "in" group at school and not having her Dad.
I loved the characters. This may have been a book that would have been easier to follow had I read a hard copy where it is easy to flip to chapter headings. On my Kindle I found the time sequence difficult to follow since different characters were writing about different times. It all came together in the end, but I still don't have a clear timeline in my head.
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade: B