Stevie Carroll's Reviews > What Holds Us Together

What Holds Us Together by Sandi Ward
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Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, and The Unread:

I picked this book up because I was intrigued by the idea of a story partly narrated by the main character’s cat. For the most part, that conceit worked. It was the humans I struggled to get my head around. Annika’s husband Peter died suddenly and unexpectedly almost a year and a half before our story starts. Still grieving, Annika has moved back to the town where they grew up – and the house where she lived with her parents – along with their sixteen-year-old twins, and their cat, Luna. The twins are keen to know more about their parents’ earlier lives and have managed to get hold of Peter’s diary, much to Annika’s annoyance, since she suspects there are truths in it that she has yet to discuss with her offspring. When a winter storm strands the family indoors, they are visited by one of her and Peter’s former classmates – Annika’s high school boyfriend, Sam – along with his older brother and Annika’s younger sister. Cooped up together, secrets are revealed while Luna keeps a watchful eye on her humans.

The parts of the story told from Luna’s point of view are naively charming. Peter had been a great storyteller, and she finds it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, particularly where his tales are concerned. She is perceptive enough to see that his spirit is watching over Annika and the kids, while the living humans are unaware of this presence. At first suspicious of the male intruders, Luna soon warms to Sam and tries to encourage Annika to pay more attention to him. She is privy to a number of conversations between different pairs of humans, which don’t always make sense to her, but which are very revealing to the reader. I liked this method of showing the different backstories and underlying motivations for the characters, but it is frustrating at times that they couldn’t just communicate directly with each other about their regrets over the past and worries for the future. I also feel at times that I was too aware of the twists that were coming, while the different characters continued on their own paths, blissfully unaware of what the others are hiding from them.

I guessed the big reveal about the event that had torn friendships apart and split Sam and Annika up long before she got together with Peter, well before it actually happened. The lead-up to the event, told in a series of flashbacks from Annika’s point of view, was enlightening, but did little to endear the adult characters to me. I would have liked to get to know the modern-day teenagers better, but they seemed to be mostly there to cause angst for their mother and her peers.

Overall, I kind of liked the story, but don’t feel I need to read any others by the author that use the same trope of a helpful cat pushing a bunch of humans into facing up to their loves, losses, and responsibilities.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 4, 2020 – Shelved
January 4, 2020 – Shelved as: reviewed-elsewhere
January 4, 2020 – Finished Reading

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