The People We Keep
Momma Leighellen's Book Review
I chose this book for my #mommaleighellensbookclub pick for September. I did not know how much I would connect with April and adore this book. When we finished, I got to host a Zoom with the author. It just confirmed that I love this book with my whole heart. As someone who had a period of displacement, questionable relationship choices, parents that went their own way, a deep love of music, and a surprise pregnancy in my youth, I connected with this book on so many levels.
“I’ve been north, I’ve been south, traveled here and there. I’ve shed the lives I’ve left without a single care. But never in my life have I ever made it home.”
The People We Keep is a coming of age story about a young woman named April. At sixteen she steals a car and leaves home to find her way. After her mom leaves and her dad takes up with a much younger woman, April heads out on her own. She feels lost and unloved. The book follows her journey over several years as she sings in bars to earn a living.
“Singing is the only way I hear my own voice because I don’t have anyone to talk to. It’s private. It is mourning. It’s a love song. A map of where I came from.”
In every new town she has a chance to start over. But her past continues to haunt her. She isn’t sure if history has a way of repeating itself or if she just has a way of making the cycles repeat. But in every town she also finds hope. Hope in the few people she connects with who love her as she is, if even just for a moment.
“It’s amazing how much you can miss people you only got to be with for one tiny little perfect bit of time. How a place where you barely got to live can be the closest thing you’ve ever had to home.”
The book is a beautiful look at found family, at pushing past your history to make a new future, and the ways we can love ourselves in a healthy way even if the people who created us couldn’t. It perfectly captures that deep inner core ache you feel when you no longer have a place to call home and the wounds we carry from our parents.
“You are the gift that came from two broken people. They were weak, hurt, cowardly, and somehow managed to make this miracle girl who is so full of piss and vinegar she survived it all!”
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