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The Things That Keep Us Here
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"A timely premise can't quite compensate for structural deficiencies in Buckley's lackluster debut novel. Ann Brooks and her family have anticipated the possibility of pandemic avian flu for months; Ann's estranged husband, Peter, after all, has been researching the mysterious illness at his university research job. When the flu — with a near-50% fatality rate — closes in on the Columbus, Ohio, home where Ann and her two daughters live, Peter and his exotically beautiful Ph.D. student, Shazia, move in to pool resources, but desperation grows as heat, food and water dwindle, and the threat of death looms (sometimes literally) on their doorstep. Although pseudoscientific reports and news bulletins add to the novel's 'ripped from the headlines' feel, emotional revelations are handled less skillfully. A tragedy in Ann and Peter's past, after numerous veiled allusions, is finally revealed in an unsatisfying throwaway in the epilogue. The third-person narration squanders the tensions among Ann, Peter and Shazia, resulting in flat and unsurprising epiphanies. Although Buckley raises important questions about trust, loyalty and forgiveness, the narrative flaws detract from the overall effect." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
“What ‘Things’ accurately portrays — is how mass disaster brings out strength in unexpected quarters and weakness in more surprising places.” —Los Angeles Times
“Chilling, engrossing…. I'd heartily recommend this one to anyone who enjoys suspense and exceptional writing.” —Dallas Morning News
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