Tuesday, January 19, 2021

WOMEN'S FICTION - What's Worth Keeping by Kaya McLaren


In Kaya McLaren's What's Worth Keeping, during one unforgettable summer, three generations of one family receive the best gift of all time: a second chance...

The day her doctor says the one word that no one wants to hear, Amy Bergstrom discovers a secret that her husband of 25 years has been keeping from her. Now that the months of treatment and surgeries are behind her, she escapes her claustrophobic life seeking healing, peace and clarity in an ancient forest in Washington State, a forest that holds memories of her childhood summers.

After dropping off his daughter at Amy's Aunt Rae's horse ranch in the mountains of New Mexico, Officer Paul Bergstrom visits the fixer-upper he had bought years ago as a place to retire with his family. Although it appears fine on the outside, the inside is a disaster--just like his marriage. When he finds himself with more off-duty time than he expected, he lovingly repairs his dream home, building the future he so desperately wants.

Witnessing her mother's health crisis had been terrifying enough, but learning the cause was genetic leaves Carly with the sense that all of her dreams are pointless. With the help of her eccentric great aunt and a Clydesdale named T. Rex, Carly just may find her faith in her future again.

Amy, Paul, and Carly discover that love and family are worth keeping in this powerful, emotional, and hopeful novel.

My Rating - 4 Stars!

What's Worth Keeping is a thought-provoking, powerful tale by Kayla McLaren. 

The overall tone is sadness and more sadness. But ultimately, it's a tale of survival, acceptance, and healing. 

Amy, her husband Paul, and their daughter Carly are all suffering, with each of them trying to survive the aftermath of Amy's cancer diagnosis and treatment. We all know that cancer effects all those around the one physically suffering, and this story tackles just that.

It's been a long road for Amy, with having just beaten cancer. But knowing she's done with her treatments leaves her unsure of her life now. Of course, it doesn't help that she expects her husband to leave her now. She's left depressed, lonely, unsure, and grieving for her old self. She can't bare to look at her new body. Her perspective is well handled, with care, knowledge, and compassion. 

Meanwhile Paul is suffering from an issue with his job. The aftermath of seeing terror and not being able to help anyone, has left him feeling less than. He was there, at the Oklahoma City bombing, and he still has flashbacks to all he saw that day. It's truly heart-wrenching to read his journey.

And Carly. Not only is she dealing with everything her family's gone through, she is dealing with how to tackle things. Should she be reckless and not care about anything? Should she do things to get her parents attention? And should she be tested to see if her odds of getting cancer like her mother are high?  She's only a teen and she has no clue how to process everything she's facing or how to deal with her future. 

Then there's Aunt Rae, who is one of those special characters who you'll remember for a long time. She's supportive, she's honest, she's helpful, and most of all she's caring. She loves hard and she loves fully. I love her role in this storyline. 

The writing is good, written in three povs, fully developing each character. Amy, Paul, and Carly are complex characters with an extremely complex tale. Each character's emotions are front and center, well explored, and driving the story throughout. My only complaint is that is it definitely slow. 

What's Worth Keeping is a long, detailed family tale. Kaya McLaren tackles some heavy topics and does so in a wonderful manner. I definitely recommend this book when you have time to tackle a long and serious read.

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