The Things That Keep Us Here
By Carla Buckley
WOW!! Great Book Alert!
Timely, frightening, riveting, and hopeful. I loved it all! I read as we traveled through
Ann and Peter Brooks are the parents of 13 year old Kate and 8 year old Maddie . Ann spends her days caring for her daughters and struggling with the continuation of life after losing her small son years before. She’s an artist who has stifled her dreams as she pours the rest of what remains of herself into her two daughters. Her husband, Peter, is a Vet/Scientist involved in research and influenza pathogens at the local university. His way of “dealing” with the loss of their son is to ignore the hard stuff and keep plugging on. Now they are at cross-roads in their marriage. Enter H5N1, a virulent avian flu that can/will decimate both the avian and human population on the planet. 50% of all who contract the disease will die!
This book had me in the first chapter. Why?
- Great story line that was relevant to today!! If you worried, even a little, about H1N1 then be wary of this one. Flu pandemic and how it affects both the individual and the community are at the center of this book. As the flyleaf states, “How far would you go to protect your family?” I found another interesting question was not “what should we fear?” but “who should we fear?” And the answer….anyone! When Ann’s neighbor and best friend, Libby, contracts the flu and comes pleading for Ann’s help to care for her infant son, Ann refuses to even open the door. I sat and asked myself, “would I do that?” What do we become?” Selfish? Protective? Smart? Buckley’s book is filled with these moments of “look in the mirror” types of situations.
- I loved the chapter prologues; a series of public announcements, newsbytes, memos or press releases that went out world wide. This tool gave one an idea of what was happening in the world surrounding Ann and her family. The book was personal and intimate; the prologues set the stage for how this family dealt with what was happening in the world. What a great device and it worked so well for me!
- I loved the scientific details that Buckley wove into her story. After finishing the book I discovered that the author’s husband truly is an environmental research scientist so scenarios were familiar territory for her. We learn how Peter tests birds for the disease, how they worked on vaccines and how the disease transmits from host to host. Nothing was extremely technical to bog the reader down, but was written in clear and concise fashion that heightened the reality of the pandemic. Panic, rising prices, no electricity, no running water, quarantines…and every one of the situations was real enough to pull off the pages of the daily newspaper or internet website.
Now I am not a pessimist or a fatalist, I just truly enjoy a riveting story and this was just the one! This was Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer on steroids!! This was a “Jodi Picoult” seize a plot-from-the-headlines book. I’ve stewed over this book for the last 24 hours since finishing it; that’s my mark of a good book. How lucky have I been? I’ve really scored…2 great books to start vacation!
PS – I have gone to the pantry a few times since I got home last night and counted my canned goods AGAIN! You never can tell when an asteroid will fall or a pandemic will hit.