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Summary and book reviews of The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

The Things That Keep Us Here

A Novel

by Carla Buckley

The Things That Keep Us Here
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2010, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 432 pages

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Book Summary

How far would you go to protect your family?

Carla Buckley’s poignant debut raises important questions to which there are no easy answers, in an emotionally riveting tale of one family facing unimaginable stress.

How far would you go to protect your family?

Ann Brooks never thought she’d have to answer that question. Then she found her limits tested by a crisis no one could prevent. Now, as her neighborhood descends into panic, she must make tough choices to protect everyone she loves from a threat she cannot even see. In this chillingly urgent novel, Carla Buckley confronts us with the terrifying decisions we are forced to make when ordinary life changes overnight.

A year ago, Ann and Peter Brooks were just another unhappily married couple trying–and failing–to keep their relationship together while they raised two young daughters. Now the world around them is about to be shaken as Peter, a university researcher, comes to a startling realization: A virulent pandemic has made the terrible leap across the ocean to America’s heartland.

And it is killing fifty out of every hundred people it touches.

As their town goes into lockdown, Peter is forced to return home–with his beautiful graduate assistant. But the Brookses’ safe suburban world is no longer the refuge it once was. Food grows scarce, and neighbor turns against neighbor in grocery stores and at gas pumps. And then a winter storm strikes, and the community is left huddling in the dark.

Trapped inside the house she once called home, Ann Brooks must make life-or-death decisions in an environment where opening a door to a neighbor could threaten all the things she holds dear.

Carla Buckley’s poignant debut raises important questions to which there are no easy answers, in an emotionally riveting tale of one family facing unimaginable stress.

Chapter Eleven

Peter wedged his jacket into the hall closet beside the girls’ coats, their cheerful colors standing out against the tan of his jacket and the sober maroon of Ann’s coat, the same one she’d had for years. Boots stood on the floor below—Maddie’s mauve leopard print, Ann’s stubby brown ones, and a sleek black pair with designs stitched into the leather with white thread. Kate’s, probably. She’d always loved cowboy boots. He remembered her first pair, a bright cherry color, that she loved so much she insisted on wearing them everywhere, to the store, on playdates, even to bed. After she’d fallen asleep, either he or Ann would tiptoe in and gently ease the boots off her feet. But then, sure enough, the next morning she’d appear in the kitchen doorway, yawning, still in her nightgown and wearing those boots. How old had she been, two? Maybe three. She’d cried so when she finally outgrew them and Ann couldn’t find a ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
The Dallas Morning New, Joy Tipping

[A] chilling, engrossing debut novel

Suspense Magazine

The Things That Keep Us Here is without a doubt one of the most powerful and realistically frightening books I have ever read... Readers will find themselves inevitably swept into the lives of this family; sharing their fears, heartbreak and success while watching helplessly as the systems meant to better everyone's lives breakdown. With staggering intensity, Buckley's writing will leave you speechless.

The Straits Times, Niki Bruce

This is one of the scariest books I've read recently, and there's not a single zombie, vampire, genetically modified creature or mass murderer in sight.

Kirkus Reviews

Mawkish prose and blatantly contrived plot developments make this a disappointing debut.

Publishers Weekly

Although Buckley raises important questions about trust, loyalty and forgiveness, the narrative flaws detract from the overall effect.

Library Journal

Despite structural flaws, this vivid depiction of suburban America gone bad is riveting. It has the potential for broad appeal and could attract fans of authors as diverse as Jodi Picoult, Robin Cook, and P.D. James.

Booklist

...her story gradually gains depth and momentum, operating both as a psychological profile of a family under duress and as a scary, gripping look at the effects of a pandemic. For fans of Robin Cook, Michael Palmer, and Daniel Kalla.

Reader Reviews
Gayle Marra

memorable
I read this book last year. Each time I talk books with a friend or book club, this book comes to mind. I was totally absorbed while reading, and to this day the story haunts me.. I loved, it and I am reading it again. This author reminds me of ...   Read More

Hunter C.

Structure vs. Plot
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...   Read More

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 ...   Read More

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 ...   Read More

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