Book Review: The Ones We Keep by Bobbie Jean Huff

Posted January 20, 2022 by WendyW in Blogging, Book Review, bookblogger / 23 Comments

The Ones We Keep
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

by Bobbie Jean Huff
Publication Date January 18, 2022
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Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Women
Pages: 352
Format: ARC

An emotional debut for fans of Elizabeth Strout and Diane Chamberlain, The Ones We Keep follows the splintered lives of four family members in the years following an unthinkable tragedy, and the choices they must make to find their way back to each other.

One family. One tragedy. One incredible decision to change their fate.

A quiet lakeside resort in Vermont seems like the perfect summer getaway for Olivia and Harry Somerville and their three young boys. But in a single moment, their idyllic family retreat becomes a mother's worst nightmare. Returning from a solo hike one afternoon, Olivia learns from a passing stranger that one of her sons has drowned—but not which one.

In that moment, Olivia makes a panicked decision that will change her family forever.

If she never knows which son has drowned, can Olivia convince herself that none of them have? By shielding herself from reality, can she continue to live in a world where all three boys are still alive?

An emotional and heartfelt meditation on the nature of loss, the gift of recovery, and the bonds of love, The Ones We Keep tells the story of one family as they learn to face their grief and fight for hope.

Your next gripping book club read exploring the depths of a mother's love, the endurance of family, and the mind-bending paths we take to shield ourselves from heartache.

My Review:

Four and a half Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭒

The Ones We Keep by debut author Bobbie Jean Huff is an emotional, and heartbreaking novel, and also a fascinating look into grief, and what it can do to a woman’s mental health.  

Olivia and Harry Somerville and their three young boys take a summer vacation at a peaceful lakeside resort in Vermont.  When Olivia takes off for a hike one day, she returns from the hike and learns that one of her sons has drowned.  Not knowing which of her sons has drowned, she makes a panicked decision that changes her life, and the lives of her remaining family. 

This book is sure to bring on very strong emotions from readers.  The decisions, Oliva and the family make in the wake of such a tragic loss is as unfathomable as the tragedy itself.  The brain sometimes does extraordinary things in order to protect itself, and this is one example of how far the brain can go to do that.  

The book is very engaging and I had trouble putting it down as I wanted to find out how this family survives.  Although reading about grief can be tough, I found that this author handled it in a very compassionate way, and one that didn’t have me bawling my eyes out.  (although I did have a few sniffles).  

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an emotional book.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Bobbie Jean Huff

Canadian-American Bobbie Jean Huff studied music in the United States and France, but it wasn’t until she moved to Canada that she began writing. Since childhood she had wanted to write a novel, but for decades wrote only short stories, poetry, and essays.

The plot for The Ones We Keep was sparked when she was returning to a Vermont family resort where she and her family had been staying. She looked across the lake to the dock, where children were playing, and asked herself, What if?

The Ones We Keep took three years to write. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Dzanc Prize for Fiction and was a semi-finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom 2019 Creative Writing Competition.

A recipient of grants from the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council, and first prize winner of a cross-Canada short fiction competition, Bobbie Jean has written for various publications, including The Globe and Mail, Quarry, Event, Queen’s Quarterly, Room of One’s Own, Queen’s Alumni Review, Anthos, and the New Ohio Review.

Bobbie Jean lives in Pennington, New Jersey. She has recently completed her second novel, working title Olivia, Turning, and is currently working on her third.

Her debut novel, The Ones We Keep, will be published in January 2022 by Sourcebooks.

Have you read this book? Do you want to? Please comment below! 

23 responses to “Book Review: The Ones We Keep by Bobbie Jean Huff

  1. I’ve been so interested in this book since you introduced it on your blog! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it. The story sounds incredibly emotional and it’s wonderful that the author handled it in a compassionate way. Thank you for sharing Wendy! I’ll definitely add this to my list!

  2. This one sounds so moving. It is definitely one that I have to be in the right frame of mind to tackle. Excellent review, Wendy!

  3. What a heartbreaking situation! Sounds like an emotional read. I have to gear up for those. Happy to see you enjoyed it, Wendy!

  4. Great review, Wendy. I don’t understand how the mother could not know which son drowned. Where were the others? If that would be a spoiler, then don’t tell!

    • The Mother was hiking and some hikers told her that a boy had drowned. So, because she coudln’t bear to find out which one died, she just kept walking in the other direction so she wouldn’t find out. Not a spoiler as this happens early in the book.

  5. Wow what a premise for this book! I haven’t heard of this one before and it sounds amazing but as a sensitive reader I’m not sure I’m up for the emotion of this one. Great review Wendy.