You all know how much I have enjoyed Allison's 3 previous books - Swimming for Sunlight, Why Can't I Be You, and Stay. Now comes her latest, and it's right up there with the others. It's called The People We Keep. Here's what it's about:
Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a run-down motorhome, flunking out of school, and picking up shifts at the local diner. But when April realizes she's finally had enough - enough of her selfish, absent father and barely surviving in an unfeeling town - she makes a break for it. Determined to live life on her own terms, April steals a car and hits the road, with only her music to keep her company.
She manages to scrape together a meaningful existence as she travels, encountering people and places that grab hold of her heart. From lifelong friendships to tragic heartbreaks, April chronicles her journey in the beautiful songs she writes as she discovers that home is with the people you choose to keep.
Let me start by saying that you will form an emotional connection to April right away (I sure did). You will worry when she worries. You will exult when she exults. And you will ride alongside her to her various destinations.
You have heard ad nauseam from me that my reading of a book is greatly enhanced when I make an emotional connection to the main protagonist. Well, this happened for me on page 11! She was getting ready to perform (small spoiler alert), and I was nervous for her. It never stopped. I've got "Uh-oh," "Shoot," and a whole bunch of chills, tears, more tears, and actual crying. This may surprise you since I have a reputation of being a manly man...oh, wait, that must be somebody else I'm thinking of. Regardless of my soft-hearted nature(!), it still takes a good author to make me emotional. And, make no mistake, Allison is a VERY good author.
Lest we forget, Allison creates images that stick with you. Here are just a few examples:
- She refers to a food prep guy who aggressively chops lettuce as the "Lettuce Murderer."
- In leaving someone behind, she says, "There won't ever be an us, but he'll never forget me."
- Referring to a bar owner where April sometimes plays, she says, "There's nothing there, but there's nothing missing."
Do I think you should read The People We Keep? That's a big 10-4! It's available August 3. Mark your calendars!