Fiction Reviews

The Ones We Keep | ARC Review

Author: Bobbie Jean Huff

Genre: Literary Fiction

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐🌗/5

Publication Data: 18th Jan 2022

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

Trigger Warnings: abandonment by a parent, losing a family member, drowning, alcoholism and mention of abortion


This book starts with Olivia and her perfect family of a husband and three sons heading to a beach resort. As Olivia takes an afternoon off to hike, her kids are being babysat in the resort when something catastrophic occurs. On her way back to the resort, Olivia finds out from the passersby that one of the sons living in the resort has drowned. In fear of finding out which son died and thinking that if she never found out then she can go on to pretend that all her sons are alive, she takes a bus to New York City and never looks back.

Later, the story spanning over several years, talks about how the sons’ lives were impacted individually and as a whole as they grew up because of their mother’s abandonment, how they coped and so on. Meanwhile we get to see what kind of guilt ridden and burdened yet secretive life that Olivia leads over the next few decades as well. Will they find their way back to each other? Or if they do, will it be too late? (Goodreads)

What I Liked About the Book

Having requested this book ages ago, I had no recollection of the story so I was completely blank going into it. But when the story picks up I found myself hooked to it and thinking about it so much.

This story is the perfect example of how everyone deals with grief differently even though it may not always be right. Had we got only the son’s perspective then we might have considered Olivia a bad mother for leaving her family, but having dual perspective really gave that extra dimension and depth to the story and emotions.

In hindsight, this book has a very simple plotline but the author ended up executing it so well that it turned into quite a masterpiece. I really liked how we got to see the sons’ lives being worlds apart because of the age difference when their mother left. It goes to show that parent’s can really end up screwing up their kids’ lives without intending to. It hampers their ability to find stability or love in life and sometimes pushes them to resort to extreme measures like alcohol.

Also the ending. It was quite the abrupt ending which was perfectly done, but the build up was sooo good that I started sobbing. This might also be because I was listening to “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran in the background so the timing was impeccable and the whole combo of the words from the lyrics and the story really moved me.

What I Disliked About the Book

While this book was amazing, I feel like it just didn’t reach that mark of 5 ⭐ because of the time jumps. Very less time was spent in each year and we were only given short glimpses of the characters. I know that the author specializes in short stories which makes perfect sense but I wish I could have learnt more about them.

Also I would have loved for the book to extend a bit more after the ending because I really wanted to read about their reactions, their emotions and everything.

  • wants a character driven story
  • is looking for a book with multiple perspectives over a few decades
  • wants a short emotional book
  • wants a book about motherhood and how complex it can be
Comment down below your thoughts on the book or if you are going to be picking it up soon.
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By Harini @BookSpiral

Hi! I am Harini and I run this blog. I am a massive lover of books and like to spend all my time reading. My main aim is to explore new topics and unique books and talk about it on my blog. Hope you enjoy the content that I put out!

5 replies on “The Ones We Keep | ARC Review”

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