Title: The Pieces We Keep
Author: Kristina McMorris
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Kensington Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the author
Number of pages: 464
First line: The sound of her name, in that deep familiar timbre, swept through Audra like a winter gale.
Goodreads blurb: 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.
The Pieces We Keep got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but I eventually found myself engrossed in this well-written historical novel. I never can seem to get enough of World War II history, and am always excited when a work of historical fiction brings something new to my attention.
I’d never heard that there were Nazi spies captured in the US during World War II, but McMorris has taken that little-known fact and crafted an authentic love story. Vivian falls in love with Isaac in the early days of the war in England, but they are separated when she heads back to the US and he goes back to Germany to try to get his family out. Fast-forward a couple years, and Vivian has managed to fall in love with Gene – only to be contacted by Isaac, asking for her help. Vivan, the daughter of a US diplomat, finds her loyalties – and love for Gene – tested by Isaac’s request.
In the modern story, McMorris deals with the idea of children having memories of past lives. As someone who doesn’t believe in reincarnation, I had a hard time investing completely in this aspect of the story, though I could completely relate to Audra’s worry about what was happening to her son. By the time I was halfway through the book, I had forgotten my skepticism and just wanted to see how things would turn out for Audra and Jack.
McMorris has a knack for writing female characters, and also for bringing history to life. Recommended.