The People We Keep, a review by Amy

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The People We Keep
Allison Larkin
368 pages
Gallery Books
Available 8/3/21

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“We have people we get to keep, who won’t ever let us go. And that’s the most important part.”

A beautiful coming of age story that is gritty, raw, and wholly authentic. Larkin’s writing drew me in and her adept characterization of April kept me spellbound. I was profoundly invested in April, rooting for her and endeared to her. Larkin’s story took root in my soul and made me feel deeply. I haven’t cried that many tears for a character in a very long time!

We meet April as she hotwires her elderly neighbor’s car. She’s headed to her very first gig, and she’s young…only 16. But there’s a maturity to her…one that only people who have had to deal with adult things as a child can understand. Of course an audience at a bar doesn’t know that. How could they know the deep emptiness she feels and how she’s searching for something to remind her that she exists? Oh but how she captivates that crowd…her songs and their message, her voice. And from that moment on, she captivated me too.

April’s story resonated with me deeply. Her loneliness emanated through her story. The feeling of abandonment and how she internalized it. That feeling that everything good could just slip away. Believing that her worth was always conditional. Larkin’s portrayal of April’s journey of self-discovery is poignant and relatable. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming. It’s compelling and relatable.

But don’t be deceived…in spite of the hardships and the anguish, April is not fragile. She’s tough and courageous and determined. And while she’s young and a tad naïve, she is also willing to be open and incredibly wise. Even though she kept running from heartache, she also never gave up on the idea of home. Maybe that hard and soft dichotomy is what made April so distinct and endearing.

And the supporting cast of characters aren’t to be overlooked….so unique, so perfect. (Ethan was my favorite!)

As someone who had a parent(s) that couldn’t be present (emotionally), I too struggled to learn that my worth wasn’t connected to their inabilities. In reading April’s story, I felt seen and understood. What a cathartic gift Larkin has given to us!

This one is currently available through Book of the Month and will be widely available on August 3.

Happy reading friends!

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