Carla Buckley, author of the apocalyptic novel, The Things That Keep Us Here. How far would you go to protect your family? Ann Brooks never thought she’d have to answer that question. Then she found her limits tested by a crisis no one could prevent. Now, as her neighborhood descends into panic, she must make tough choices to protect everyone she loves from a threat she cannot even see. In this chillingly urgent novel, Carla Buckley confronts us with the terrifying decisions we are forced to make when ordinary life changes overnight. Carla Buckley’s poignant debut raises important questions to which there are no easy answers, in an emotionally riveting tale of one family facing unimaginable stress.
1) Ann Brooks, the older of two girls, planned her life out from the moment she realized she could: she’d go to art school, have her first gallery show before she was twenty-five, get married and have children, and live happily ever after. Then she learned that she couldn’t plan anything. Life happened when she wasn’t looking.
2) She sleeps on the side of the bed facing the doorway, in case one of her children calls out in the middle of the night for her.
3) She loves the occasional glass of red wine or a pomegranate martini, but stopped drinking entirely when her husband moved out. She needs to be alert; she can never relax her guard.
4) If she has to choose between a sunrise or sunset, she would pick sunsets. There’s something peaceful about the sun sinking slowly beneath the horizon, its colors spreading out across the gathering darkness, as if it’s had a good day and is going to sleep now.
5) She fell in love with her husband, Peter, the moment she first saw him; it was as though he were haloed in golden light. He didn’t even have to speak before she knew he was the one for her. That was the same moment that she began to understand that some things couldn’t be explained, and that some things lay outside her worldview.
6) She’s always been a daddy’s girl and it’s painful to live so far away as her father undergoes chemotherapy. Sometimes she doubts her choices, wanting to be with him in Washington DC, but staying in Ohio so she can maintain normalcy for her children, who are already upset by Peter’s moving out.
7) When she learned her second child was going to be a boy, she secretly worried she wouldn’t be a good mother for him. She felt much more comfortable around girls, and had grown up with just a little sister. But the moment her infant son was placed in her arms, she realized her fears were groundless.
8) When Peter moved out, a door closed in her heart–one that her best friend, Libby, insists on prying open. First, it was a guy Libby knows from work. Then it was someone she met at the gym, and then the brother of a friend of a cousin. But Ann knows she’ll never fall in love again.
9) She realizes she can’t be the one to teach Kate how to drive. She’ll make Kate a nervous wreck, correcting her every move. Far better to let Peter, with his easygoing personality, teach Kate when the time comes.
10) It was Peter who persuaded her to check the organ donor box on her driver’s license renewal, him and his gentle way of just looking at her. She didn’t know why she hadn’t become an organ donor before–maybe because doing so it made death feel that much closer.
11) When she’s alone in the car, she sings along to the radio, loudly and with gusto. She tries to stop when she pulls up alongside another car at a red light, but doesn’t always catch herself in time.
12) She has a real phobia of spiders from when she and Peter lived in North Carolina, and she saw her first wolf spider scooting across her kitchen floor, a creature so huge and furry that it literally made her heart stop. And then she learned about brown recluse spiders, ordinary-looking but quick to feel threatened, and deadly.
13) Sometime, she’d like to swim with the dolphins. They seem so wise and kind. She knows that simply being near them could help heal her broken heart.
About the Author
Carla Buckley was born in Washington, D.C. She has worked in a variety of jobs, including a stint as an assistant press secretary for a U.S. senator, an analyst with the Smithsonian Institution, and a technical writer for a defense contractor. She currently lives in Ohio with her husband and children. The Things That Keep Us Here is her first novel. Bantam Dell will publish Buckley’s next novel in 2011. You can visit Carla Buckley’s website at http://www.carlabuckley.com