When the epilogue of the first book in the series leaves your chin on the ground, you know the second book will have all kinds of twists and turns. And Kerry Lonsdale’s Everything We Keep had a killer epilogue. The kind that made me say, “Damn, that epilogue though.”
Luckily, unlike some fans, I didn’t have to wait too long to read the follow-up to Everything We Keep. While Everything We Left Behind is a “sequel” in that it tells you what happened after the events of the first book, it had quite a few years between the books and we swap narrators. So, here’s the basic premise of the series. In Everything We Keep we meet Aimee. She’s a grieving fiance who has just buried her love on the day they were to marry. You can see my Quick Take on that story. If you haven’t read that one, you might want to stop here and read it really quickly. Spoilers and all.
Okay, all done? Great read, huh? In Everything We Left Behind, Lonsdale takes us into the mind of James/Carlos. And it’s a fascinating dive. We see James/Carlos through a split story. You get a chapter of Carlos dealing with the aftermath of finding out he’s been duped by those he thought he could trust and coming to grips with the fact that at any time he could come out of his fugue state and no longer be Carlos. The alternating chapters show the aftermath of James “waking up” to a life six years later and totally different from what he remembers.
Just as with the first book and Aimee’s story, we see a person broken by situation who is seeking to find healing and wholeness. If you read my Quick Take, you’ll know that I loved the way Lonsdale carefully takes Aimee through the grief of losing her life-long love. She does it again with taking James/Carlos to a point of acceptance with their shared situation. They are both James/Carlos. I think Nat says it best. One body, one heart, one soul. The brain is just confused. And just like the men handle situations differently when it comes to people and events, they each handle acceptance of what happened with the fugue differently. As I read, my one hope for James/Carlos was to learn that each was him. His brain just unlocked different aspects of himself.
In the end, though, I was still not sure what to think of the Donato family. Thomas, mom and Phil are not wonderful people. It seems to be the one thing James/Carlos agree on. Don’t trust them. Yet, Lonsdale is able to create sympathy even for these three. Victims of their circumstances and each making horrible mistakes. I’m not sure, in the end, we trust them, but I’ll go with James/Carlos if he’s able to let go of any anger and walk away.
Bottom line, I really enjoyed the follow-up Lonsdale creates with Everything We Left Behind. I wasn’t sure where she was taking me when I started, but I really loved where she landed. And the final locale in Hawaii wasn’t a bad place to hang with these interesting characters! Solid story about the human spirit and the ability for love to transcend even the most difficult situations.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.