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9780440245094

The Things That Keep Us Here

Buckley, Carla

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How far would you go to protect your family ?

Ann Brooks never thought she’d have to answer that question. Then she found her limits tested by a crisis no one could prevent. Now, as her neighborhood descends into panic, she must make tough choices to protect everyone she loves from a threat she cannot even see. In this chillingly urgent novel, Carla Buckley confronts us with the terrifying decisions we are forced to make when ordinary life changes overnight.

A year ago, Ann and Peter Brooks were just another unhappily married couple trying–and failing–to keep their relationship together while they raised two young daughters. Now the world around them is about to be shaken as Peter, a university researcher, comes to a startling realization: A virulent pandemic has made the terrible leap across the ocean to America’s heartland.

And it is killing fifty out of every hundred people it touches.

As their town goes into lockdown, Peter is forced to return home–with his beautiful graduate assistant. But the Brookses’ safe suburban world is no longer the refuge it once was. Food grows scarce, and neighbor turns against neighbor in grocery stores and at gas pumps. And then a winter storm strikes, and the community is left huddling in the dark.

Trapped inside the house she once called home, Ann Brooks must make life-or-death decisions in an environment where opening a door to a neighbor could threaten all the things she holds dear.

Carla Buckley’s poignant debut raises important questions to which there are no easy answers, in an emotionally riveting tale of one family facing unimaginable stress.

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Amazon Exclusive: Carla Buckley on The Things That Keep Us Here

The old black and white photographs are haunting.

Rows upon rows of bleak white cots spreading out to the horizon, filled with soldiers suffering not from war injuries, but the effects of a terrible new disease which mankind had never seen before. Many of these young men would die, their lungs swelling with fluid until they choked to death. Back in their hometowns, their family members waged the same helpless battle. Doctors could only treat the symptoms and hope they themselves didn’t fall victim. Governments rushed to impose some sort of order, but only those cities that completely closed their borders suffered fewer casualties. In all, there were three waves of illness, spanning three years and reaching into every corner of the world, and when it had subsided, twenty percent of the world population was gone. The very young and the old were spared; an entire generation had been wiped away with one sweeping blow. The culprit? The flu.

Almost a hundred years have passed since the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918. But despite tremendous medical advances, and our increased understanding of what a virus is and how it spreads, people are almost as vulnerable today as they were back then. Perhaps even more so, given air travel and how small the world has become. There is no cure. We can see the monster, but we can’t stop it.

In 2006, having just moved to a new hometown with my young children, I was particularly susceptible to terrifying reports that the world was overdue for another flu pandemic. This time, it was H5N1, the so-called “bird flu,” that seemed on the verge of mutating into a contagious form, and it had a mortality rate of fifty percent. Half the world? All I could think of were those narrow white cots, stretching out to eternity.

The Things That Keep Us Here is a work of fiction, based on scientific fact, that asks what the world might look like if the very worst happened and a lethal virus raged uncontrolled. It is written from the intimate perspective of one family in middle America, and most of the action takes place within their home. Would people come together or stand apart? How far would they go to save themselves and their loved ones? In the end, The Things That Keep Us Here is less about the power of a virus to reduce humanity to a shadow, and more about the power of the human spirit to remain untouched.

What images would survive from a modern pandemic, and who would be looking at them, a hundred years later? --Carla Buckley

(Photo © Brian Killian)

About the Author:

Carla Buckley lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband, an environmental scientist, and their three children. She serves on the Board of the International Thriller Writers as Vice President of Awards, and is the international bestselling author of  Invisible and  The Things That Keep Us Here, which was nominated for a Thriller Award as a best first novel and the Ohioana Book Award for fiction. 

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Buckley, Carla Author
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