Title: Keep Forever
Author: Alexa Kingaard
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication Date: March 28, 2020
Genre: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 5 stars
Paul O’Brien’s idyllic childhood in Southern California comes to a halt when his mother dies in the summer before his senior year of high school and a very different persona of his father emerges – isolating himself inside the house, turning to alcohol for comfort, and barely noticing his only child. Simultaneously, the war in Vietnam is sending shock waves around the world and young men from one coast to the other are being called upon to serve. Paul enlists in the Marines before receiving his draft notice.
Elizabeth Sutton is eager to gain some independence from her father’s old fashioned notions and looking forward to her first year in high school. At fifteen years old, tragedy strikes with the loss of both parents in an auto accident, turning her childhood into one of responsibility and worry overnight. The four siblings are scattered when her nine-year-old twin sisters are sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle on Nantucket Island, and Elizabeth is left behind in Boston with their grandmother. Her older brother, Sam, enlists in the Marines, eager to join the conflict a world away as opposed to dealing with the one unfolding at home.
A bond develops between Paul and Sam in Vietnam, and both are injured in a bloody battle that costs Sam his right hand and sets the stage for a lifetime of nightmares and sleepless nights for Paul. Matched by similar tragedies at a young age, Elizabeth and Paul’s first introduction by Sam upon their return from Vietnam is the beginning of friendship and love that survives five decades.
After marrying, welcoming their first child, and inheriting a small beach house, the couple adapts to their new surroundings, but distant memories of Vietnam continue to haunt Paul. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, he is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his loved ones amidst his his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As their lives unravel from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth learns to accept the burden that Paul brought home, and together they make their own memories to keep forever.
Inspired By A True Story
Keep Forever was a poignant and gripping novel about the aftermath of the war in Vietnam and the struggles faced by its soldiers and their families. It was insightful and honest and powerful.
I could not put this down. The story of Elizabeth and Paul was so raw and real. The representation of the PTSD Paul had was absolutely heartbreaking. My heart broke for the struggles he faced and the fact that the mentality then was “we’re manly soldiers and we don’t talk about our pain” made it all the more sad to read. About halfway through when Paul had a sort of breaking point with his PTSD/depression, I was on the verge of crying like a baby because it hit so close to home. She could not have painted a better picture of the sadness and the fear from both the person suffering and the family members who love that person with their whole heart.
I wish this book was 600 pages. There was so much life between Elizabeth and Paul to be explored. Some moments were explored more and others were glossed over. But considering this is coming from Alexa Kingaard’s own personal experience, I can accept that. She’s chosen to highlight what she felt was important through the life she experienced with a husband home from Vietnam with PTSD and to me that made the book even better. These emotions were truly felt by her at one point or another in her life and she really hit the nail on the head with how much it can hurt to see the one you love suffer and there’s not really much you can do to help.
I loved this book so much and I really hope you guys will pick this one up.
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- Prize: $50 Amazon gift card
- Ends: May 13, 2020
About Alexa Kingaard:
Alexa Kingaard was born in San Diego, CA and has lived most of her life in the area. She currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of a son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders.
Her debut novel, KEEP FOREVER, was inspired by her late ex-husband who batted the residual effects of the Vietnam War for decades after his return. The burden he brought home is shared by combat veterans of all conflicts, and her fictional account highlights the collateral damage encountered by family members and loved ones living with PTSD in their midst.
Her second novel, MY NAME IS ROSE, departs from her personal experiences and focuses on the collective memories of her generation. She loves writing about nostalgia and the human condition, the common denominator of our lives.