Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale
A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.
Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.
As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.
I should really begin this review by saying that I don’t read a lot of mysteries or thrillers. As in, I just had to create a “mystery-thriller” shelf for this book, because I didn’t have one.
Recently I watched the movie The Girl on the Train instead of reading the book, because, like I said, I don’t read mysteries or thrillers and therefore I didn’t want to devote a dozen hours to something I might just end up hating. Two hours, however, I have no problem sacrificing, and so I watched the movie.
And fucking LOVED it.
I had no idea what was going on. The fact that everyone was slowly exposed as an unreliable narrator gave me an unexpected, slightly macabre thrill. And that ending? GAH. I never saw it coming. I was an instant addict. I wanted, no, I needed more. And so I decided to gobble up as many mysteries and thrillers with intriguing blurbs from our local used book store that I could carry.
This book makes question that decision. It was…not good.
“On our wedding day, my fiance, James, arrived at the church in a casket.”
That’s the opening line. Holy shit, right? Way to immediately hook your reader. It set the bar for my expectations pretty damn high. Maybe that’s why I’m so disappointed right now.
Quick synopsis: Aimee and James are childhood sweethearts. A few months before the wedding, he falls overboard during a fishing trip and disappears. A body washes ashore that is identified as his, and his brother, Thomas, flies to Mexico to claim it and bring it home. In a coldly efficient move, his family decides to bury him on what was to be his wedding day, since the guests already have all their travel plans booked.
Case closed, right? NOPE. Some woman (a psychic, it turns out) appears out of the blue at the funeral, harangues Aimee in the parking lot, and tells her that James is still alive and she has information on his whereabouts.
The first 60% showed serious promise, but only because I had no idea what was going on. There were passages sprinkled throughout that made me question the reliability of Aimee’s narration and wonder about her mental health. Was she lying about everything? Was the book intentionally misleading me? Then there were lines like this:
“James isn’t the missing person. You are. I was sent to find you.”
It was spoken by what we’re led to believe is either a psychic projection, or a hallucination brought on by alcohol and an MSG allergy. Yeah, you read that right. It was just weird enough that it worked for me. Right up until the big reveal.
Suffice it to say, this ruined the entire rest of the book for me. It renders everything that came before it implausible. It reveals gaping plot holes that you could drive a semi through. Aimee, for me, became a highly unlikable character. Like, detestable because of her actions when the author’s intent was clearly to make her relatable.
On top of this, the incorporation of a slight paranormal aspect is never explained, plot threads are left dangling in wind, the “villains” are never held accountable, and yet, at the end, everyone still goes their merry way.
Overall a frustrating and highly disappointing read. And I’m a newbie to the genre. I can only imagine what a die-hard mystery reader would make of this.