The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
Here’s another Alzheimer story. Going into this, I wasn’t sure how it would go. I remember how reading Still Alice gave me nightmares and made me think I was beginning to have Alzheimer’s. You can read my thoughts on that book HERE. (Spoiler alert: I loved Still Alice, it just scared me because of my family history)
In The Things We Keep, we meet Anna, a 38-year old, who has recently been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s. As soon as she was diagnosed she left her husband (her marriage wasn’t great to start with) and soon checked herself into an assisted living type home. The home that Anna’s brother chose for her to live in also had another younger Alzheimer’s patient living here, Luke.
Eve has recently found out her husband has been living a lie and this lie changes Eve and her daughter, Clem’s life forever. She takes her chef skills and gets a job as a cook and housekeeper in the home Anna lives in.
The story takes on several different narrators. We get to see inside Anna’s life and what it is like to not even remember which door opens to your closet vs. the bathroom or hall. We witness Eve battle her anger and missing her husband all at the same time. She has to figure out how to be a single parent to Clementine, who is facing her own challenges. We also get to see the world through sweet Clementine’s eyes, when she can’t understand why her friends at school now say bad things about her father.
I couldn’t put this book down. I loved Anna’s insight and it gave me thoughts on how to communicate with my family member who has Alzheimer’s. I fell in love with each character that lived in the house and for Eve and Clem, just trying to find a new normal.
The story jumps from the point where Anna moves into the house then jumps forward and back again seamlessly. You know something traumatic has happened with Anna and Luke but the story unfolds beautifully until you see the whole picture.
What a jewel of a book! Be sure to read it soon.