BookBrowse Reviews The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

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The Things We Keep

by Sally Hepworth

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth X
The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 352 pages
    Jan 2017, 352 pages


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A story about self-determination and identity...and the power of love.

Sally Hepworth's The Things We Keep explores a tough illness and the impact it has on family. It is a heartbreaking story but one that also champions love triumphing over challenge. 15 out of 17 of our member reviewers gave it a 4 or 5-star rating.

Anna is in her thirties when she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease, a genetically based illness that she inherited from her mother. [She is placed in] an assisted living facility where, day by day, her cognitive processes decline. However, no one accounted for the power of love to surmount this illness. Anna meets a young man close to her age with a type of Alzheimer's different than hers, and they connect deeply and powerfully. Sally Hepworth has written a sad book that also made me smile; a page-turner that I wanted to read slowly and savor; an accessible and poignant book (Bonnie B.) It's so difficult to talk about Alzheimer's disease, especially early onset Alzheimer's. But Sally Hepworth has written a beautiful account of two young people with the disease and the things that they want to hold on to the most (Beth P.) It's been a while since I've read something that I didn't want to end. Great story about love, grief, and what we are willing to risk for others (Michele N.) Hepworth writes with compassion and understanding of the impact of this cruel disease on all who know and love the patients (Helen S.)

Our readers couldn't help but be reminded of their own experiences and the experiences of people close to their hearts:

When I was 38 I worried about a lot of things, but never did I ever think of getting "younger" onset Alzheimer's Disease at that time. Today, I am 30 years older, and every time I forget a word or misplace something, it is on my mind…am I getting "it"? (Cam G) What a good read...My mother was diagnosed with dementia, but she was in her 70s, so I can just imagine the devastation of being diagnosed at such a young age. I often think, as I get closer to my mother's age, whether or not it will happen to me (Cheryl S.) Having just had a relative in an assisted living situation, I found the descriptions of the facility and the residents extremely accurate. Hepworth did an excellent job writing these scenes (Judi R.)

They were also deeply moved by Sally Hepworth's emotional wisdom:

Sally Hepworth has written a novel that takes readers through emotional highs and lows. I don't know how she got inside Anna's head and managed to tell her story from her point of view. Her descriptions of Anna's thought processes, as the disease takes more and more of her mind, make for fascinating reading. Hepworth draws in her readers so it's impossible not to become emotionally invested in the story (Linda J.) I enjoyed this book very much. I've never read anything about early on-set Alzheimers disease, and through Anna's first person story I really felt what it must be like to steadily lose your memory and almost all that you are as a person. Anna amazed me. She made choices while she still could, and faced her future with courage. But, the story remained real. Anna's feelings, thoughts, and reactions were so human and honest. An important thing to remember, which comes through the story, is that love does remain. Memories may fail, but a person can always feel love (Jean N.) I've always believed that we go through certain life experiences to prepare us for something that is coming down the road...whether to help ourselves or another person. The different voices in The Things We Keep, and the reality of Anna's decline, are very realistic. And yet the story is not depressing or frightening. Life happens in countless different experiences, one experience preparing us for the next (Sheila B.)

Our readers wholeheartedly recommend The Things We Keep:

With wisdom, candor and humor Hepworth spins what could be a tough read, into one that is wonderful! The tome she crafts catches the reader's heart. It will be a great book club choice, with lots to talk about. This book will wind up in the " favorites" section in my library (Kathryn K.) For anyone who has been touched by this cruel disease, this book is a gift (Beth P.) This is one of the best books I have read this year. Anyone who enjoyed Still Alice would like this one, and I think it brings up many issues for book clubs to discuss (Mary B.) This book has a lot of topics to discuss including love, family, rights, etc. I also think people that liked the author's other book The Secrets of Midwives will enjoy this book (Cindy J.) The Things We Keep will be helpful for people who have family and loved ones with dementia related disease (Kimberly H.)

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in January 2016, and has been updated for the February 2017 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Early-onset Alzheimer's

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