Thursday, January 24, 2013

Keepsake by Kristina Riggle

In Keepsake, Trish is raising two kids on her own. She doesn't realize it yet, but she's become a hoarder, just like her Mother. When her young son becomes injured after some of her many possessions fall on him, Child Protective Services steps in. To get her son back, Trish enlists the help of her sister, Mary, who's basically her opposite, to clean up the mess. Together they sift through years of clutter and uncover the memories, the secrets and the pain buried beneath it.

I really enjoyed this book. The story is written from alternating views, Trish, the hoarder, and Mary, her sister, both in the first person. I particularly fond of this style; it was a perfect fit for this book. I loved hearing the story from both the sisters. Trish's hoarding was definitely a problem. Her defensiveness over every little thing was quite abrasive at times. I can't believe that Mary and the others who helped stuck around. I'm not sure I would have. Even though Mary wasn't a hoarder, she wasn't without her own problems: compulsive neatness. I can see how it could be almost as psychologically damaging as hoarding.

Even though I love the style in which it was written, I found myself spending a little time at the beginning of each chapter trying to figure out who was "talking". It wasn't always clear to me until I got a little ways into the text. Perhaps a chapter heading like "Chapter 3 - Trish" or even just to have "Trish" without the chapter number at the beginning. After awhile I figured it out that it was alternating so that if I had just read about Mary, then it was Trish's turn. However, every time I picked up the book, I had to work out who I was reading about. It would have been nice to have a reminder.

My one other complaint is that the story felt a little superficial at times. I can't quite put my finger on why, though. The author gave lots of insight into the thoughts and problems of a hoarder, but perhaps she could have dug a little deeper and wrote a little more about the "professional help" Trish was getting. I wasn't entirely convinced that Trish would/could change her current behaviours even though her reasons for being a hoarder were uncovered.

I absolutely loved the cover of this book. It's beautiful, but I'm pretty partial to pearls.

On a personal note, I found it little hard to read because we had a hoarder in our family. Actually, it was more like an ill family member, who couldn't properly care for himself or his house. Unfortunately, his many possessions and clutter had to be dealt with after his death. This story stirred up lots of painful emotions and memories.

This edition contains a section at the back of the book that contains a Q&A with the author, some questions for book club discussions and a bit about the author's other books. It's well worth the read.

Highly recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this author.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at William Morrow/HarperCollins for this review copy.

Keepsake by Kristina Riggle, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©2012. ISBN 9780062003072(Trade paperback), 366p.

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