“Hearst Magazines and Verizon Media may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.”
Pull up a seat as we dive in to one book each month with the Country Living Front Porch Book Club, capping each month with a chat with the authors themselves. Our August 2021 selection is author Allison Larkin’s “The People We Keep"!
It’s 1994 in a small New York town, and April Sawicki is a girl with a song, a guitar, and a car. Only, the car belonged to her elderly neighbor down the road and the guitar is the only companion 16-year-old April has.
On its surface, The People We Keep, Allison Larkin’s latest novel, is the story of a girl with a talent for survival. Semi-abandoned by her father and fully abandoned by her mother, April is left in a motorhome in the woods of Little River, New York, to fend for herself. Her songs keep her company amid the trees and loneliness. “Don’t forget you made me,” she sings about her dad. “Don’t forget you made me the way I am.” Full of spunk tempered by levelheadedness, April isn’t ashamed of her lot in life, but she also knows that the cards are stacked against her. So one day she decides enough is enough, puts the town of Little River in her (or rather, her neighbor’s) rear view, and volunteers her fate to the stars.
Over the next few years, April traverses the U.S., from the freezing college town of Ithaca, New York, to the sparkling coast of Florida and artsy mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, spinning her heartache into songs as she scrapes a living together on the road as a songwriter and singer.
But with each town, the circumstances of April’s past float amid the tunes, haunting her choices as much as her songs. April may be street smart, but in the pages of The People We Keep, her youth feels real, her decisions colored by the pains of her past and the abandonment of her parents. She longs to belong even as she’s afraid to let anyone in. “I wonder if maybe all you do is meet people and lose them and your smile fades the further you go because you have to carry the space they leave,” she wonders.
The characters she meets along the way are crafted with all the care that April herself deserves. Allison has a knack for distilling tender scenes down to their essence, and you’ll fall in love again and again alongside April—and shout at her when she leaves, even as you know, you know, why she does what she does.
The People We Keep is a story for all of us who have yearned for the home we know we deserve and are afraid to fight for. It’s a story of hope and belonging and the power of songs to carry us toward healing. But mainly, it’s a story about the families we make and the people we build them with. The people we keep close, no matter how far we drift.
COUNTRY LIVING FRONT PORCH BOOK CLUB SELECTION FOR AUGUST 2021
Selection: The People We Keep by Allison Larkin (available via local bookstores, Amazon, or Bookshop)
Start reading with us now.
Tune in to Country Living's Instagram as Allison answers your questions and chats live with us about The People We Keep on August 19 at 2 p.m. EST.
You Might Also Like