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The Things That Keep Us Here: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)
by Carla Buckley

Published: 2011-01-25
Paperback : 432 pages
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Everything seems quiet on Ann Brooks’s suburban cul-de-sac. Despite her impending divorce, she’s created a happy home and her daughters are adjusting to the change. She feels lucky to be in a supportive community and confident that she can handle any other hardship that life may throw ...
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Introduction

Everything seems quiet on Ann Brooks’s suburban cul-de-sac. Despite her impending divorce, she’s created a happy home and her daughters are adjusting to the change. She feels lucky to be in a supportive community and confident that she can handle any other hardship that life may throw her way. But then, right before Thanksgiving, a crisis strikes that turns everybody’s world upside down. Suddenly her estranged husband is forced back onto her doorstep, bringing with him his beautiful graduate assistant. Trapped inside the house she once called home, confronted by challenges she never could have imagined, Ann must make life-or-death decisions in an environment where the simple act of opening a door to a neighbor could jeopardize all she holds dear.

The choices she makes will impact the lives of those around her irrevocably and linger in the reader’s memory in this marvelous first novel, written with authority, grace, and wisdom.

Editorial Review

Amazon Exclusive: Carla Buckley on The Things That Keep Us Here

The old black and white photographs are haunting.

Rows upon rows of bleak white cots spreading out to the horizon, filled with soldiers suffering not from war injuries, but the effects of a terrible new disease which mankind had never seen before. Many of these young men would die, their lungs swelling with fluid until they choked to death. Back in their hometowns, their family members waged the same helpless battle. Doctors could only treat the symptoms and hope they themselves didn’t fall victim. Governments rushed to impose some sort of order, but only those cities that completely closed their borders suffered fewer casualties. In all, there were three waves of illness, spanning three years and reaching into every corner of the world, and when it had subsided, twenty percent of the world population was gone. The very young and the old were spared; an entire generation had been wiped away with one sweeping blow. The culprit? The flu.

Almost a hundred years have passed since the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918. But despite tremendous medical advances, and our increased understanding of what a virus is and how it spreads, people are almost as vulnerable today as they were back then. Perhaps even more so, given air travel and how small the world has become. There is no cure. We can see the monster, but we can’t stop it.

In 2006, having just moved to a new hometown with my young children, I was particularly susceptible to terrifying reports that the world was overdue for another flu pandemic. This time, it was H5N1, the so-called “bird flu,” that seemed on the verge of mutating into a contagious form, and it had a mortality rate of fifty percent. Half the world? All I could think of were those narrow white cots, stretching out to eternity.

The Things That Keep Us Here is a work of fiction, based on scientific fact, that asks what the world might look like if the very worst happened and a lethal virus raged uncontrolled. It is written from the intimate perspective of one family in middle America, and most of the action takes place within their home. Would people come together or stand apart? How far would they go to save themselves and their loved ones? In the end, The Things That Keep Us Here is less about the power of a virus to reduce humanity to a shadow, and more about the power of the human spirit to remain untouched.

What images would survive from a modern pandemic, and who would be looking at them, a hundred years later? --Carla Buckley

(Photo © Brian Killian)


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  "Intense"by chomer (see profile) 02/17/12

This book is very intense and kept me on my toes.

 
  "djforrest"by djforrest (see profile) 02/02/12

If it wouldn't have been one of our selections for Book Club I wouldn't have finished it...It took a long time to get the story moving along and then it was stagnant. I didn't like the book. I can see... (read more)

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