Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Review of The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

By Kim

About The Pieces We Keep (from the book jacket):

Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes’s grief over her husband’s untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flying—but it is just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.

As Jack’s fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack’s dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to WWII, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to wound—and perhaps, at last, to heal.

Intricate and beautifully written, The Pieces We Keep illuminates those moments when life asks us to reach beyond what we know and embrace what was once unthinkable. Deftly weaving together past and present, this is a story that is at once poignant and thought-provoking, and as unpredictable as the human heart.

About Kristina McMorris (from the book jacket):

Kristina McMorris garnered two nominations for the highly coveted Romance Writers of America prize, the Golden Heart for her fictional work. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. This is her third novel, following the widely praised Letters From Home and Bridge of Scarlet Leaves.


If you've been following us here at What Women Write for a while, the name Kristina McMorris will be familiar to you, since we have reviewed both her previous novels. (See the reviews here and here.)

The Pieces We Keep is McMorris’ third novel and, I believe, her best so far. It has the elements I loved about her previous books – WWII setting, unconventional love story, gorgeous prose, and a bittersweet conclusion. It would have been simple to stick with a formula that has proven to work in the past. Instead, McMorris challenged herself (and her readers) by taking two seemingly unrelated story lines, one present day and one from WWII, and presenting them in alternating chapters. A careful reader will soon have theories about who is haunting Jack and why, but the puzzle is so cleverly unraveled that I doubt anyone will have all the pieces in place before the end.

I imagine a lot readers will reach the end much faster than they anticipate. There is simply no good place to
set the book down. Each chapter ending left me feeling as though my toes hung over a virtual cliff and that I’d be forced to look down until I found out what happened. Of course, because the chapters alternated time periods, this meant I must read through another whole chapter before I could find out. Skipping ahead was not an option.  

History buffs will enjoy reading about little-known WWII tidbits such as German saboteurs in America.  The romance and mystery elements should have wide appeal. Books clubs will have several controversial issues to discuss and debate.

The Pieces We Keep is sure to touch an especially deep nerve for parents of “old soul” children.  Jack’s fear of flying reminded me of my own daughter’s fear of bridges and storms. She’s been terrified of both since toddlerhood and it’s to such a marked degree that I’ve wondered if she’s having some sort of premonition. I had not considered the possibility of it being a memory before, but find that theory much more comforting.

There’s something for everyone in this book. I highly recommend it.

The Pieces We Keep will be available everywhere on November 26th.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of the book mentioned above gratis in the hope that I would mention it on this blog. Regardless, I only recommend books I've read and believe will appeal to our readers. In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” I am making this statement.


  1. I have an early copy of this book, and I can't wait to read it. This review makes me just more anxious!! Thanks Kim!

    1. Anita, it is fabulous! I could not put it down. It's her best one yet.


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