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Grabs You and Pulls You In!
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW!
Structure vs. Plot
Ann and Peter Brooks have two daughters: twelve-year-old Kate and seven-year-old Maddie who live in the comfortable suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Their baby, William, had died causing unspeakable grief for Ann and Peter which has affected their relationship irreparably. One night while driving home from a family get together, Peter announces that they should separate and spend some time alone. He tells Anne that he “still loves her”, but he’s “not IN love with her anymore.” As expected, Kate and Maddie don’t take the news of their parents split very well. Peter collects some clothing and moves into a small one-bedroom apartment, leaving the house for Ann and the girls.
Peter is a Professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine but is now doing research. After a year of separation, Ann is feeling confident that she can deal with any problems or hardships. But, just before Thanksgiving, a serious and dangerous crisis hits and topples everybody’s world upside down. Out at one of the lakes close to their home, Peter and some duck hunters have discovered hundreds of blue-winged teal birds, mottled brown and cream bobbing upside down in the lake. They soon learn that the avian influenza virus H5N1 is loose in their community. Everyone is trapped inside their homes making life and death decisions in an environment where even opening your front door could mean the end of you and your family.
Ann now has to make choices that will affect the lives of Kate and Maddie and others around her. Quarantined in their own home, Ann is soon forced to make her first of many life or death decisions!
An excellent debut novel geared for everyone.
Who cares if this story doesn't have the best structure in the world? It is a STORY to be told, to entertain and to grip it's readers. This is one of the best books I've ever read. Kudos! I very highly recommend that anyone who has the chance to read, takes that opportunity.
Judy B. (Marysville, OH)
Scary, excellent, compelling
I could not put this book down. This is a riveting story of how a broken family living in the Columbus, Ohio, area (where I live, too) try to survive an avian flu epidemic that more than decimates the population worldwide. Could this book be more timely with the current threat of H1N1 in all of our minds?
Shellie - Layers of Thought Book Blog
A Woman's Science Fiction Book
Ann and Peter and their two daughters are beautifully drawn as earnest but humanly flawed people who are faced with not only the threat of the deadly virus, but also with the failure of the systems that sustain them because of the deaths of so many people--no electricity, no phone, no transportation to get food on market shelves or into homes. And the family must face the breakdown of the community into a dangerous, fragmented, rule-less, everyone-for-him/herself environment. The family's decisions and coping actions are often heartbreaking. There is a thread that is tied up at the end of the book that seemed unnecessary, since the issue did not seem clear in the flow of the story. But that aside, I loved this book and can't wait for more from Carla Buckley.
An apocalyptic novel and page turner, it is an event which could happen making the story poignant. It has technical information to keep it intellectual, and reflective insight to make it heart wrenching. It made me consider what boundaries I would break when faced with questionable survival. I would define this as a woman’s science fiction book due to its characters and emotional content.
Shannon R. (Sunburst, MT)
Good for a first time author
This book was really intriguing. I really enjoyed learning about the "science" of the avian flu. It was really thought provoking about would I be ready for a pandemic and had to stay at home for an unknown amount of time. However, the ending could definitely be improved (edited to remove plot spoiler...). There was also inconsistencies that were not plausible.... All in all, it was a good first effort and I did enjoy it.
Zonetta G. (Winter Springs, FL)
The Things that Keep Us Here
The author presents a thought provoking picture of a real potential threat to families in today's world. While I found the character development a little weak (one dimensional) the intensity picked up about two-thirds through the novel. All the situations presented happening to one family may or may not be realistic but offer a synopsis of scary possibilities to think about. Definitely a good recommendation for book clubs as it will certainly generate lively discussion.
Erica M. (Skokie, IL)
Things that Keep us Here
This was a well-imagined book about what the world would look like if a pandemic hit. It was a realistic view of the community, country and world view in a crisis situation. The description of a 13-year-old girl's behavior in such a crisis was excellent. My greatest problem with the book was that I never felt emotionally connected to the main characters in the story. I also wonder if the surprise at the end, alluded to throughout the book was necessary as anything other than as a device to keep one moving forward through the story. It never worked to explain the relationship between the characters, since the explanation was realized until the end.
Elizabeth B. (Sunnyvale, CA)
The Things That Keep Us Here
I loved this book. I am an avid reader, but have not lately come across a book I did not want to take breaks from. Some books take awhile for me to warm up to the characters, but by the second page, I found myself quite interested in caring for this family. I was impressed with the way the author just plunked us into their lives, and then kept thickening (enriching) their characters chapter after chapter, often in very subtle ways. And while the topic seems particularly pertinent in today's times, the ways in which the author propelled the reader forward with the plot makes me think it could stand alone with or without today's issues at hand. My sense is that this book would appeal to a wide variety of people due to several themes running through the story.