Excerpt from The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Things We Keep

by Sally Hepworth

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2017, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

1
Anna

Fifteen months ago …

No one trusts anything I say. If I point out, for example, that the toast is burning or that it's time for the six o'clock news, people marvel. How about that? It is time for the six o'clock news. Well done, Anna. Maybe if I were eighty-eight instead of thirty-eight, I wouldn't care. Then again, maybe I would. As a new resident of Rosalind House, an assisted-living facility for senior citizens, I'm having a new appreciation for the hardships of the elderly.

"Anna, this is Bert," someone says as a man slopes by on his walker. I've been introduced to half a dozen people who look more or less like Bert: old, ashen, hunched-over. We're on wicker lawn chairs in the streaming sunshine, and I know Jack brought me out here to make us both feel better. Yes, you're checking into an old folks' home, but look, it has a garden!

I wave to Bert, but my gaze is fixed across the lawn, where my five-year-old nephew, Ethan, is having coins pulled out of his ears by a man in a navy and red striped dressing gown. My mood lifts. Ethan always jokes that he's my favorite nephew, and even though I deny it in public, it's true. He's the youngest of Jack's boys, and definitely the best one.

Once, when he was four, I took him for a spin on my motorcycle. I didn't even bother asking Brayden or Hank; I knew they'd just say it was dangerous and then tattle to their mother. As far as I know, Ethan never tattled. Brayden and Hank know what's wrong with me—I can tell from the way they constantly glance at their mother when they talk to me. But Ethan either doesn't know or doesn't care. I really don't mind which one.

"And this is Clara."

Clara wanders toward us with remarkable speed (compared to the others). She's probably in her eighties—but portly, more robust looking than the rest. With a cloud of fluffy yellow-gray hair, she reminds me of a newborn chick.

"I've been looking forward to meetin' you," she says, then gives me a whiskery kiss. A burst of fragrance fills my airspace. Normally I don't like to be kissed, yet from her, the gesture feels oddly natural. And these days, I make a point of respecting people who are natural around me. "If you need anything at all, you let me know, honey," she says, then wanders off toward a huge oak tree. When she gets there, she kisses the man in the navy and red striped dressing gown full on the mouth in a way that feels vaguely territorial, like she's staking her claim.

Beside me, Jack is talking to Eric, the center's manager—a paunchy, red-faced man with a thick Tom Selleck mustache and a titter of a laugh that, by rights, should belong to a female in her eighties. Every time I hear it (which is a lot, he seems to chortle at the end of every sentence), I jerk around, looking for a ladies' auxiliary group giggling over its knitting. He and Jack talk, and I listen without really hearing. "We do a lot of activities … we'll keep her active … twenty-four-hour care and security … experience with dementia … the best possible place for her…"

Blah, blah, blah. Eric has a certain desperate-to-please manner about him that, a few years ago, Jack and I would have exchanged a look over, but today Jack is eating it up. He's happily oblivious to Eric's false laugh, his too-tight chinos, his gaze that wanders to the right (and vaguely near my chest), every few moments. Eric's only redeeming quality so far is that when we arrived, he asked my advice on an old knee injury that had been giving him some trouble (probably because he hoped I'd offer to give it a rub). He needed a doctor, not a paramedic, and I explained this, but I appreciated him asking. These days, the most interesting conversations I have are about my favorite color or type of food. I like it when people remember that I'm a person, not just a person with Alzheimer's.

Excerpted from The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth. Copyright © 2016 by Sally Hepworth. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Early-onset Alzheimer's

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...
  • Book Jacket: This Blessed Earth
    This Blessed Earth
    by Ted Genoways
    For the Hammonds, a farming family in Nebraska, the 2014 harvest season started with a perfect storm...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.