Still struggling to cope with the death of her husband two years prior, Audra Hughes is desperate to find another job and life far from the constant reminders and memories of their life together. But as Audra and her young son, Jack, begin a plane ride on their way to a job interview Jack becomes uncontrollable and must be restrained and removed from the plane. Once such a sweet and affable boy, Jack’s erratic and strange behavior continues to get worse, with violent night terrors, drawings of burning planes and Nazis and even speaking German – a language he has never been taught – to a young U.S. Army veteran, Sean Malloy, who he has never met before. When Audra and Sean work to try and piece together Jack’s actions with information they learn about WWII they begin to believe he might be experiencing past life memories. But as Jack becomes more withdrawn his odd behavior starts to attract the attention of others and some begin to question Audra’s parenting capabilities. Audra soon finds herself in a battle to not only discover what is happening to Jack but to even keep him within her care. She will have to draw on every ounce of strength, open-mindedness and love she has to try and help her son.
Alternating with Audra and Jack’s story is that of Vivian James, a young American woman living with her parents in London on the eve of WWII. She finds herself in love with a young American man of German descent named Isaak who will do everything he can to not only protect his family still living in Germany but Vivian as well. When Vivian is made to leave London for America Isaak is unable to accompany her but promises to do everything he can to be with her again. This begins a roller coaster ride for the rest of their lives that will test their loyalties and love to the breaking point.
As these two stories wrap around each other Kristina McMorris does a stellar job of keeping the tension mounting and the mysterious connections between the two just beyond reach. It isn’t until The Pieces We Keep comes to an end that the reader can fully grasp the various connections and the immense journeys these characters have been on, as well as the vast growth they have gone through to reach the end. The characters and settings are perfectly written and I was completely drawn into the fluctuating emotions and actions of each and every one.
More than anything else, however, the intricate and varied look at memory and how it affects each person was simply fascinating. From Audra trying to keep her memories of her husband away to Sean fighting to regain his memories after an injury in Afghanistan to Jack possibly experiencing strange memories from an entirely different life there is just so much to think about and question. There is so much to enjoy about this book I think any reader who enjoys history, mystery or an exploration of how we as humans cope with life’s unexpected and painful bumps will eat this up.
Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Kensington. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.