Author: Kristina Riggle
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Trish likes keeping things, but that doesn’t mean she has a problem. She just has trouble parting with her stuff; she might need all the things she has at some point. Plus, she’s a single mom with two kids. Of course things around the house are messy. But when a pile of stuff falls on her son, Jack, injuring him, Child Protective Services gets involved. Their message is clear: clean up the house or we’ll take your children away. Trish’s older son informs Trish’s sister, Mary, of the ultimatum, and despite their differences, Mary is determined to help her sister clean up.
Keepsake is about hoarding, plain and simple. Except for the fact that there’s nothing plain or simple about hoarding, as Kristina Riggle makes clear. It’s hard to imagine how someone who has that much stuff around the house doesn’t realize that she has a problem, yet Trish does just that. She justifies her hoarding by telling herself that she’s not perfect, and that she doesn’t keep food around. Just paper and other objects. Riggle’s descriptions are pretty horrifying; anyone clean-inclined will be shuddering while reading this book.
Trish is a difficult character to sympathize with in Keepsake. It’s not easy for Mary to reach out to her and help, yet she does just that. But Trish pushes everyone away, feeling sorry for herself. She feels persecuted and refuses to admit that there’s a problem with the way she lives. She gets better over the course of the novel, but her bemoaning is difficult to swallow. At the same time, though, Riggle does an exceptional job with Trish. She’s not supposed to be easy. What the author really does is get under the skin of a hoarder. The reader begins to understand the mentality behind such a proclivity, what might drive someone to start hoarding.
The most tragic aspect of Keepsake is what Trish’s hoarding has done to those around her. She’s isolated herself completely from her family. Once Trish started hoarding like their mother, Mary wanted nothing else to do with her. Her older son also can’t handle his mother’s tendencies and has fled the house. She has little to do with her father. Through her hoarding, Trish has completely isolated herself. All she has left is her son, Jack, and it’s really sad to see the damage she’s done to him. Not the physical (though that is awful), but the mental. Jack has learned how to be a hoarder from his mother, and it’s sad to think about the long-term damage that will result.
Keepsake is definitely a thought-provoking novel that will have readers thinking about it long after the last pages are turned. Riggle writes realistic, three-dimensional characters that have serious issues. Though Mary swoops in to help Trish, she’s not perfect either. It’s nice to see the two sisters work through their differences. Riggle’s portrayal of hoarding is very realistic; Trish doesn’t change overnight, but it’s nice to see her take the first steps towards letting go.
Other books by Kristina Riggle: