20 April 2012

Review (Audiobook): The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

Published: 2 February 2010 by Delacorte Press

Pages: 480 (hardcover)

Audiobook version: 14 hours and 3 minutes, narrated by Kimberly Farr and Abby Craden

Genre/s: Post-Apocalyptic, Virus

Source: Own library

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository


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.

My Thoughts

It's been a long time since I've listened to an audiobook - I love them but it needs to be exactly the right book with exactly the right narrator otherwise I wander off into dreamland and then miss parts of the story. But this is an excellent choice for an audiobook - an emotional, captivating story with neutral but engaging narrators.

The plot of The Things That Keep Us Here is pretty straightforward - an outbreak of bird flu causes panic as the disease reaches the US, and Peter and his graduate student end up living back in the family home with Ann and her daughters. As the crisis deepens they make the decision to effectively barricade themselves inside the house and avoid the outside world in attempt to not expose themselves to the disease. The main focus of the story, however, is the emotional reactions of Ann, Peter and to a lesser degree, their daughters.

As Ann struggles between despising and feeling sympathy for the student, her first priority is for the health and happiness of her daughters - keeping them isolated from potential disease carriers, fed, watered and maintaining a sense of normality in an increasingly desperate situation. When events outside the house start to force their way inside, both Ann and Peter start to take more risky decisions and actions.

I felt a connection with all of the characters, especially Ann who is haunted by her own personal demons - she appears cold and unemotional but is simply keeping all her feelings inside so as not to upset other people. Her determination to protect her children through the crisis pushes her into situations that she finds disturbing and difficult, but still maintains the facade of a loving, kind mother. The personalities of Peter and their daughters shine through in the writing without needing an explicit explanation.

The world-building is done mainly via media excerpts - which is completely in line with the story as the family's isolation means they have no access to information about what is happening in the world, and this builds tension as I also had to try and imagine exactly what was going on outside their home.

The Things That Keep Us Here ends with a real climax - the kind where you just can't tear your eyes (or in my case, ears) away, and I certainly hadn't expected the story to play out as it did.

My only negative point was the epilogue - although it did round out events in the book quite well, it did lack some of the information I wanted to complete the story.

I believe this would also captivating read on paper - I'm tempted to buy the paperback version and re-read it myself!


  1. Sounds very intriguing and promising! I like to read stories when people are trapped inside limited spaces and have to deal more with their inner emotional issues. Thank you for review!

  2. Wow! Epidemic stories make for excitement... and this sounds like a good one. Nice to meetcha'. Hopping about meeting bloggers in the Challenge. Best regards to you. I have been proceeding down the list, hoping I get to the last of it before mid-May. I am in the 800's now. Ruby aka Grammy



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