The Fragility of our First-World Lives
THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE was an entertaining book – I mean that in the widest sense because it was often very dark. I read it in a couple of long sittings and often found myself unwilling to put it down. Ms. Buckley does a great job of building believable characters in an apparently normal, although stressed, family situation. The tension grows, the warnings appear, but there’s a feeling of inevitability to what’s coming. Everything is beautifully underplayed until the worst of all of our fears is unleashed in progressive waves of frightening revelations. Things go from bad to worse and then continue on with little relief.
This is a “what if” story but it is so grounded in the solid everyday world of a typical neighborhood that it scares the hell out of you. I kept asking myself what I would do? What would my current neighbors do? How would I handle this? I found myself second guessing the characters and their neighbors. For the most part, I had no easy answers and Ms. Buckley’s characters provided no easy answers either. They, like all of us, made good and bad decisions, proceeded from noble and base motivations, were admirable or despicable. It felt real. It kept me turning the pages.
The family struggle at the center of the book has its own twists and turns and provides many insights into the losses of affection, mistrust, childhood trauma, coming of age issues and the generational impact of hidden events. Played against the background of a looming pandemic, everything you think you understood about relationships shifts.
Ms. Buckley’s writing is excellent and I appreciated her obvious research into the science behind flu vaccines and how neighborhoods, local vendors, local government agencies, and the various national agencies might react to a crisis of this magnitude. Admittedly, there were moments in the story when I questioned what the characters chose, or I had skepticism about this or that event in the plot, but they were few and far between. No, it’s not a perfect book, but it’s a darn good one.
THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE was an exciting and sobering reflection on the fragility of our first-world lives. Focused, for the most part, within one house, in one middle-class neighborhood, it made me question so much of what I take for granted every day; inconsequential things that might spell the difference between life or death in the right circumstances.
This is a chilling book that will force you to examine yourself. I highly recommend it.
Here's the AMAZON book link: https://www.amazon.com/Things-That-Keep-Us-Here-ebook/dp/B0036S49BY