Review: Everything We Keep

Agatha at thirteen, has been shuffled around from home to home for years with an orange suitcase that she takes everywhere with her.

In and out of foster care, Agatha has accepted that nobody really understands her predicament. She believes no one can help her. Each return home to her parents is agony. She feels like their house is swallowing them alive.

She has stopped going to school as her classmates and others in the school yard make fun of her, and tease and ridicule her family to the point where she can’t bear to go.

Then Agatha stays with Katherine and doesn’t want to leave. Although she knows her placement there is only temporary, she wishes it was permanent.

The reason for Agatha’s extreme unhappiness is slowly peeled back , clue by clue, to reveal her family circumstances. With heart-wrenching sympathy for this extraordinary main character, we begin to grasp the reasons for her desolate life but still, the pivotal reason is held back.

When she meets Tully, for the first time in her life, Agatha has a friend. But her family secrets, even so far from home, threaten to steal everything from her again. As Agatha gets a longer placement with Katherine and the possibility of a semi-permanent stay, Agatha begins to believe that things just might change.

It is when her friendship with Tully strengthens, Agatha feels compelled to show her what she has kept secret.

It is the things unsaid in this novel, that keep the reader riveted and longing to reach the real reason for all that has gone on in Agatha’s life. Every chapter cleverly focuses on and around the child, her feelings and emotions. This does not stop the reader from feeling a deep compassion for the position of the parents.

Walker has succeeded in creating a deeply moving story that tears at the heartstrings. A strong impulse to hold and comfort the lost and lonely Agatha will creep in and catch you unaware.

 Everything We Keep is Walker’s second book. Her debut novel, Unpacking Harper Holt, was published in late 2018. I look forward to what comes next.

Title: Everything We Keep
Author: Di Walker
Publisher: Scholastic, $ 18.99
Publication Date: 2 April 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760972349
For ages: 9+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

May 24, 2021 at 12:36AM Anastasia Gonis