Monday, 25 November 2013

The Pieces We Keep

Author: Christina McMorris
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Kindle e-book ARC
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
First Line: "The sound of her name, in that deep familiar timbre, swept through Audra like a winter gale."

Book Description from GoodReads:  Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes’s grief over her husband’s untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flying—but it’s just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.

As Jack’s fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack’s dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to World War II, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to wound—and perhaps, at last, to heal.

Note: My sincere thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  This book, right off the bat, has two of my favourite things going for it.  It's a historical fiction read (one of my favourite genres) and it's set in WWII all the while successfully using two different points of view in two different eras to tell the story.

Using two different points of view is tough to do seamlessly.  You have to write two distinctive voices for each of the characters and I feel that Ms McMorris does this very well.  Not only does she write from two different perspectives but these perspectives are set 60 years apart.  Not an easy task. 

In the late 1930's the story follows Vivian James and her beau, Isaak whose love affair is derailed by the beginning of WWII.  In Portland, Oregon in 2012, the story also follows Audra and her 7 year old son, Jack.  Audra is still dealing with the loss of her husband, Devon, starting a new life for herself and Jack and dealing with her in-laws who are still devastated from the loss of their son.  When Jack starts having night terrors Audra will stop at nothing to help her son ... even if it means believing in something she never normally would. 

Ms McMorris successfully writes Audra and Vivian's characters with their own distinctive voices and issues that they were each dealing with.  As a mom I tended to sympathize with Audra.  She has a lot to deal with and her angst and stress came through in the writing.  The stories of these two women, in the beginning of the book, are quite separate but as the book continues the author slowly starts to piece together how these two women are connected.  The suspense and trying to figure out how these two women were connected were my favourite part of the book.  That said though, I did have some issues, as the two stories merged, keeping track of several of the secondary characters and how they were related and involved in the past and present storyline.  

I really liked this book but I wish that certain issues were dealt with in more depth.  Jack's night terrors and the reasons for them (which forced me to suspend my own reality a bit) were interesting but I felt like I needed more of an explanation.  That said, I did appreciate reading, at the end of the book, how McMorris got the idea for this book based on the real life experiences of a boy named James Leininger who experienced similar terrors and memories of a WWII plane crash. I love getting into the head of the author to see how their stories came about.

Was this a 'hard to put down book' for me?  No.  I did find it to be a little predictable but it was an enjoyable read.  I loved that it focused on an era that I'm extremely interested in with characters who were well developed and felt authentic.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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