Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Things That Keep Us Here

By the time Carla Buckley's novel is published in February, I hope that the swine flu outbreak will have subsided. In this book, H5N1 influenza, with a 50% mortality rate, frighteningly reaches pandemic in a matter of weeks. Buckley focuses on one family in Ohio and their efforts to stay safe during the pandemic. Peter and Ann Brooks have been separated for a year and are about to formally divorce when the flu strikes. Their two daughters are angry, confused and acting out. Peter and Ann reconcile to keep their daughters safe during power outages, food shortages, and violence that escalates as people die.

On one level, this is an exciting survival story that feels very real and plausible. But the book is much more than that. As all four family members struggle, their characters reveal more and more about themselves. We come to understand how fragile marriage is, how vulnerable children are, how easily we lose our true essence in day to day life. Only when we confront a huge challenge do our true selves emerge. A very satisfying story on many levels and for all readers. You will never forget the baby on the doorstep....

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