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Review: Keepsake

August 16, 2012

When Trish’s younger son, Jack, is hurt because some of the  things she has stacked around the house fall on him, the emergency room doctor calls Child Protective Services.  A social worker visits, discovers Trish is a hoarder, and declares she must clean up her home or lose custody of Jack.  Since she’s divorced and her older son has all but moved out, that would leave Trish all alone and she can’t stand the thought of that.  Trish doesn’t really know what to do but she’s angry when her older son turns to her sister, Mary for help.  Trish and Mary haven’t been close in years and barely keep in touch.

Feeling she has no alternative, Trish reluctantly agrees to let Mary help her clean out her house.  While they’re cleaning, the two women discover something that just might help them come to terms with their past.

Keepsake, by Kristina Riggle, is the story of two sisters struggling to reestablish a relationship that was destroyed by a dysfunctional family and hoarding.  But is hoarding a cause of the dysfunction or a symptom of it?   Trish and Mary’s mother’s hoarding destroyed their family when they were children and the two women had opposite reactions to it, which caused resentment between them.

With the popularity of Hoarders on TV, I think a lot of people will find the hoarding aspect of the book fascinating.  When I delivered Meals on Wheels, I used to deliver to the home of a hoarder and, between being in that home and some reading I’ve done, it seemed to me that Riggle got the whys and hows of hoarding just right.  It’s obvious she did her homework as she wrote this book.

The relationships Riggle explored in this book are fascinating as well.  Not only does she explore the relationship between sisters Mary and Trish, she also explores the relationship they had with their mother in the past and the other relationships in their lives.  The hoarding they lived with as children affected them in different ways – what’s on the surface is easy to see but the way it affected their relationships is more difficult to discern.  The character development was great and I felt like I knew Mary and Trish by the end of the book.

I really enjoyed Keepsake, but did have one small complaint – I found it to be predictable so it dragged a little at one point.  I’m hoping Riggle will consider a sequel, though, because I’d like to see what kind of progress the characters have made.  You can listen to an interview with Riggle discussing Keepsake here.

Review copy provided by Book Club Girl.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
26 Comments leave one →
  1. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    August 16, 2012 6:28 am

    The whole hoarding thing really fascinates me and so I’m looking forward to reading my copy of this one. Crazy thing is I requested this book based on having read a few of her other ones and that she’s a Michigan author. I didn’t really read the synopsis!! 😀 I will keep in mind the predictable factor and hope it doesn’t impede on my reading enjoyment!!

  2. August 16, 2012 7:10 am

    I can’t understand hoarding as I am quite the opposite and don’t like excess stuff especially as I’ve gotten older. Like my mom she disliked “dust collectors”, as she called them:)

    • August 16, 2012 8:00 pm

      I am the same way, Diane! I can’t even bear to watch Hoarders, since there’s too much stuff everywhere!

  3. August 16, 2012 7:37 am

    Have to admit I think this would make me feel anxious while reading!

  4. August 16, 2012 7:42 am

    we also have that Hoarders program on TV in South Africa. I cannot understand why people live this way, maybe if I read the book I will find some insight 🙂

    • redeemedone permalink
      August 19, 2013 3:49 pm

      @Ruth2Day I can understand from your comment that you speak from a lack of knowledge; people do not choose to live like that because they want to it is a mental condition that is a result of trama in ones life. You wouldn’t say about a person recovering from a car accident that is confined to a wheelchair “I cannot understand why they want to sit around in a wheelchair instead of getting up and doing something worthwhile”? Its the same thing, these people are emotionally crippled, you must have compassion, they are not lazy or sloppy they are emotionally crippled.This is usually triggered by divorce, death of a loved one, rape, abuse or other tramatic life experiences that cause depression that spirals out of control. It is very sad.

  5. bookingmama permalink
    August 16, 2012 8:26 am

    I enjoyed this one and agree that Riggle dealt with a difficult issue very compassionately.

  6. August 16, 2012 9:42 am

    I liked the way the author ended the book and would like a sequel as well to see how the characters are doing.

  7. August 16, 2012 10:00 am

    I can see why the book would catch on. The Hoarder show has gotten a lot of attention lately.

    Beth ^_^

  8. August 16, 2012 11:50 am

    My great-aunt was a hoarder, and although I heard about it from other relatives, I only got to see it once first-hand. I know that it was definitely hard on her kids though, and one of them ended up living with my grandma for a while during her teen years. I can definitely see the appeal of these kinds of stories, just to know more about a situation that seems unlivable for most of us.

  9. August 16, 2012 11:56 am

    I want to read this and then give the book to my mum as she is a bit of a hoarder at times!

  10. zibilee permalink
    August 16, 2012 12:23 pm

    I have a fascination with this subject as well, and know one of these types of people personally. With the advent of the television show, lots of coverage has been done on this particular behavior, and though I can’t watch the television show, I would like to read this one. It does sound as if there is a lot here to interest me, even if it is slightly predictable. Very nice review today. I think you really explored this one with a lot of depth and sensitivity.

  11. August 16, 2012 12:50 pm

    I’ve seen a lot of books lately with this theme, which interests me because of the psychological aspect of it. This one sounds good and based on your review, I would consider reading it.

  12. August 16, 2012 12:52 pm

    Terrific review, as concise and honest as always! I’ll bet this book is very interesting. I know little about hoarders or hoarding, despite their current popularity in books and in TV shows. I am definitely NOT a hoarder, except when it comes to books!

  13. August 16, 2012 4:35 pm

    I enjoyed this book, Kathy, and I’ve read several other hoarding books from various viewpoints. I think that the hoarding behavior is a symptom of other psychological issues, which are often expressed in a variety of ways. It is similar, or perhaps an offshoot, of OCD, too.

    As a collector, I like to monitor myself so that I don’t cross that line! However, I don’t think that I have the issues that would lead to these extremes.

  14. August 16, 2012 7:46 pm

    I find this an interesting topic too. And now after reading The Violinist’s Thumb I learned that there may be a genetic component to hording. Fascinating.

  15. August 16, 2012 9:20 pm

    There is something about hoarding that is fascinating … but I’ve never seen it up close. I’m sure it is quite frightening to see in person.

  16. August 17, 2012 10:03 am

    This sounds like a really interesting read. I’ve watched the program Hoarders and it so sad to see how it takes a hold on people.

  17. August 17, 2012 12:01 pm

    Hoarding is definitely everywhere in popular culture these days — and this sounds like a very interesting read. I love books about sisters, too, so I think I might dig this one!

  18. August 17, 2012 1:46 pm

    I’ve never read a book about hoarding so I am certainly intrigued!

  19. August 18, 2012 11:43 am

    When I think of hoarding, I generally don’t think of expensive things like pearls! Sounds like this is a fascinating read.

  20. August 18, 2012 5:06 pm

    I can’t stand to watch Hoarders on TV either! LOL

  21. August 18, 2012 8:10 pm

    I’m not sure I want to read about this topic. I’ve only watched Hoarders once or twice and felt a bit uncomfortable. I’m a little curious though.

  22. August 22, 2012 4:01 pm

    Well, if you want a sequel it must be good! I’ve never seen Hoarders, and I’m not sure I want to. Sounds like an interesting book, though.

  23. August 25, 2012 2:43 pm

    I watched my first episode of Hoarders as I was packing for our vacation. What an eye opener. It was about a mother’s only son who had moved out at 12 because of the hoarder. It was so sad.

  24. redeemedone permalink
    August 19, 2013 4:01 pm

    I am the child of a hoarder, they are otherwise normal and sweet people, they are not freaks as it seems people refer to them, it is very sad. The children of hoarders are affected one of two ways either they become one or become a minimalist. If you go back and read each post and replace the word “hoarder” with an ethnicity you would see how cruel it sounds to discuss this group of people, as if they are weirdos.

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