Monday, March 12, 2012


Keepsake, by Kristina Riggle.

The sun was climbing higher. I reckoned it was probably sixty degrees or so. The women and girls coming from the church wore pastel dresses and pretty delicate shoes. The men wore suits, or at least natty ties and dress shirts. I wondered how many of them went home to a hoard of objects, or some other dreaded secret. A husband who might hit them when he drank. A wife addicted to pills. A son surfing porn. Why did everyone have to look so perfect all the time and make you think your life was terrible? Couldn't the screwed up people look the part at least so the rest of us wouldn't feel alone?

Kristina Riggle is a Michigan author who lives on the west side of the state (Grand Rapids area, I believe), and she was kind enough to send me an ARC of her novel, which will be out on June 26th. She is the author of three other books, all of which are written very well, and Keepsake is no exception. The novel tells the story of Trish, a hoarder, whose mother was a hoarder as well - an in fact died in a fire in her home, because she had stacked so many papers against the walls she was unable to escape. Trish knows she is a hoarder but she doesn't hoard old food and have animal droppings everywhere like her mother did, and so she reasons that she is not quite as bad as her mother was.

That is, until her young son Jack has a fall and gets covered in papers, breaking his arm. Social Services is called, and Trish is ordered to clean up her messy house; if she does not, Jack will be taken away from her and placed with her ex, his father. Her other son, the teenager Drew, has moved out of the house to live with his girlfriend, not being able to stand the mess anymore, and she hasn't seen her sister Mary for more than a decade. All of these people plus her father, however, come together to help Trish in her time of need, and they end up discovering more about each other and their family's past than they previously knew.

I've never watched any of those TV shows about hoarders, but I found this book to be very interesting. Usually a traumatic event can cause a person to start hoarding, and it turned out that both Trish and her mother each had one in their lives that could have been the catalyst for them. Mary, Trish's sister, is the exact opposite of her - if she doesn't have OCD, she has something close to it - and she freaks out whenever anyone even tracks dirt into her house. Trish gets upset when people move or throw out her stuff, but she must overcome this in order to be able to keep her child living with her in her house.

The novel also has a "love story" of sorts as a "B" plotline, as well as the backstory of the sisters and their family.

Keepsake will be in stores on June 26th. 3.5 stars out of 5.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC (Advance Reader's Copy) of this novel to review. The opinions listed, however, are my own.


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