Keepsake by Kristina Riggle
Publisher/Year: William Morrow, 2012
From the critically acclaimed author of Real Life & Liars and Things We Didn’t Say comes a timely and provocative novel that asks: What happens when the things we own become more important than the people we love?
Trish isn’t perfect. She’s divorced and raising two kids–so of course her house isn’t pristine. But she’s got all the important things right and she’s convinced herself that she has it all under control. That is, until the day her youngest son gets hurt and Child Protective Services comes calling. It’s at that moment when Trish is forced to consider the one thing she’s always hoped wasn’t true: that she’s living out her mother’s life as a compulsive hoarder.
The last person Trish ever wanted to turn to for help is her sister, Mary–meticulous, perfect Mary, whose house is always spotless…and who moved away from their mother to live somewhere else, just like Trish’s oldest child has. But now, working together to get Trish’s disaster of a home into livable shape, two very different sisters are about to uncover more than just piles of junk, as years of secrets, resentments, obsessions, and pain are finally brought into the light.
What I thought
Even though I ultimately enjoyed this one, I have to say–this book stressed me out!
Hoarding doesn’t affect me personally, but I found this to be a very fascinating and informative account of this disorder. With that being said, much like what happens when I watch the show, when I read this, I just wanted to go through my home and throw everything away. I think part of what interests me so much about hoarding is that I can’t wrap my head around it–it’s so hard for me to understand. I think that is part of where Riggle excels with this book. She takes an inaccessible topic and makes it understandable through the perspective of her characters.
Where I struggled with this book was with the characters, which was unusual for me. I get the whole “making a character unlikeable makes them seem more realistic” thing, but this time, it was hard for me to swallow. Mary had her own set of problems, but I found myself more sympathetic towards her. I just really could not stand Trish. Riggle tries, through various reveals, to get the reader to understand her. And I do…on some level. But I still do not get why she was so nasty, so defensive and such a woe-is-me-everyone-gangs-up-on-me kind of martyr. I also REALLY disliked her influence on Jack and how she was seemingly unaffected by the fact that she was turning him into a little hoarder.
Overall, I really did enjoy this read. I don’t think it’s something I would re-read, but if you are at all interested in hoarding and are looking for a family drama, this one is for you. The ending was tied up a little neatly, but I think this was a great look at a psychological disorder & an emotionally-investing look into a family with its own problems but that ultimately pulls together in the face of adversity.