Like the perfect summer mixtape, a coming of age story about hitting the open road and finding yourself along the way.
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Why I love it
Actress and host of "Welcome to the OC, Bitches!" podcast
The bright sunburst on the cover of The People We Keep might make you think this is just another breezy summer read, but don’t be fooled. Between its covers lies a heartbreaker of a story about one wayward teen, the family she finds, and a love of music that keeps her fighting even when the universe won’t stop throwing punches.
We first meet April in the old trailer her father has basically abandoned, living on Pop-Tarts and songwriting, trying desperately to break out of her small town. Then one day chance strikes and April finds herself city-bound. A small fish in a big pond, she nonetheless finds friends, a job at the quaint Cafe Decadence, and even a touch of romance. But April, vulnerable from some hard knocks, can’t seem to let her walls down and love in.
What I loved about this story is the way that April keeps moving to the beat of her own drum despite setbacks and travails. I didn’t agree with every choice she made but I could understand why she made them and it kept me excited on every page to see what she might get up to next. For all the hard questions it poses, The People We Keep is ultimately about resilience, compassion, and the fact that the good folks really are out there—if we can just find the courage to give them a chance.
Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a motorless motorhome that her father won in a poker game. Failing out of school, picking up shifts at Margo’s diner, she’s left fending for herself in a town where she’s never quite felt at home. When she “borrows” her neighbor’s car to perform at an open mic night, she realizes her life could be much bigger than where she came from. After a fight with her dad, April packs her stuff and leaves for good, setting off on a journey to find a life that’s all hers.
Driving without a chosen destination, she stops to rest in Ithaca. Her only plan is to survive, but as she looks for work, she finds a kindred sense of belonging at Cafe Decadence, the local coffee shop. Still, somehow, it doesn’t make sense to her that life could be this easy. The more she falls in love with her friends in Ithaca, the more she can’t shake the feeling that she’ll hurt them the way she’s been hurt.
As April moves through the world, meeting people who feel like home, she chronicles her life in the songs she writes and discovers that where she came from doesn’t dictate who she has to be.
This lyrical, unflinching tale is for anyone who has ever yearned for the fierce power of found family or to grasp the profound beauty of choosing to belong.
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This book was perfect! I chose it on a whim & I am so happy I did. I could not love this book more. I didn’t want it to end. April is such a perfect character, she was so wonderfully written! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Homer Glen, IL
I can tell the author poured so much of herself into the main character. I can also see myself in that character. That kind of connection— seeing yourself in a stranger’s writing… it’s a kind of magic
I was intrigued by April’s vagabond lifestyle & the people & places she “kept” but feared of getting too attached to. Emphasized the point that home is more of a feeling rather than a concrete place.
Sacramento , CA
The People We Keep was beautiful. It’s about the family we get to choose. It’s lovely how people would come into April’s life at a certain time and get to do that again in the end. Fast read. ♥️
Heartfelt story regarding the young protagonist’s difficult upbringing and the challenging decisions she’s left to make. IMO the ending was solid. There are some good ppl out there who will lift u up!
So many feels, all the feels. Don’t hesitate on this one; it will leave your eyes spilling and your heart full and you won’t regret one second of it. April and all of her people will be with me forevr
I wish I could have stayed in April’s world a little longer, to see what happened next and how her life (and Max’s life) turned out with their chosen family. A very human story, relatable and moving.
This book is just so good—the 90’s, the music, the people, the found family. But most importantly, April is such a magnificent, messy, broken, inspiring character. Loved this book more than I can say.
Omg. Run, do not walk, to read this book. It was funny and serious and sad and wonder and heartbreaking. It was a book I chose on a whim and am forever changed now I’ve read it. Read it. It’s worth it
“We have the people we get to keep, who won't ever let us go.” That line had me sobbing thinking of the friends we meet through life who become family. Rooted for April from page 1 to find her family!
This has been one of my favorite BOTM choices. I laughed and cried with April’s story. She is a genuinely likable and resilient character. I HIGHLY recommend this book. I can’t wait to read it again!
I generally donate the books I’ve finished to Goodwill, but there’s no way this one is ever leaving my bookshelf. It is now the second most beautiful book I’ve ever read. This is the perfect novel!
I wish I would have read this one in time for the BOTY vote…because it would have totally been it! The writing was vivid and stood out - i enjoyed that. But the story! the story spoke to my soul ❤️
I’m a jumbled mess after reading this book. April’s character growth is so moving, and the cast of characters who surround her are easy to fall in love with. If I could hug a book, I’d hug this one
Prairie du Sac, WI
I don’t generally gravitate toward contemporary fiction (I’m a 90s kid so I refuse to call it historical fiction like BOTM does), but I really enjoyed this book and vibed with it more than I thought.
5stars! I was hooked within the first 10 pages and couldn’t stop thinking about April and her story when I wasn’t reading. Beautifully written coming of age story. Put this to the top of your list!
Laguna Hills, CA
This book pulled at my heartstrings. April’s story is heartbreaking and nerve wracking the whole book, but the people she meets are true sunshine. I felt so attached to April and the other characters!
Chesterland , OH
This book was a big, warm hug. Fell in love with this story and all the characters. Loved being a part of the journey with April. Couldn’t put this one down and was left wanting more, sequel please!
Lees Summit, MO
This book tugs at your heart. I found myself upset with April for her stupid decisions, but then you remember her age and everything she’s been through and just keep rooting for her. Loved the ending!
I can’t believe this book is over. I came to LOVE the characters. Such a beautiful heartwarming story about the family you find along the way. I absolutely loved this book, wish the story could go on