3 Sentence Summary
The People We Keep is a novel written by Allison Larkin that tells a heart-wrenching and beautiful story that masterfully intertwines sorrow and joy. The book draws in the reader from the very first page and holds the attention until the end. It will make you realise the concept that we have different types of friends in life, those who serve a purpose, who are temporary, and those who are lifelong companions.
Summary Read Time: Less than 5 minutes
Actual Book Length: 368
First Published in: 2021
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book:
In this novel, we follow the coming of age story of April Sawicki. April is struggling to deal with the emotional fallout of her father leaving her to live with his new girlfriend and child. To cope, she turns to playing guitar and writing songs. But even her relationship with her boyfriend Matty fails to provide solace. After her father destroys her guitar, April steals a car and drives to Ithaca, a college town in New York.
In Ithaca, April finds a job at a local coffee shop and starts to form friendships with her coworkers Carly and Bodie. She also meets a regular customer named Adam, who offers her a place to stay, but she is initially wary of his intentions. As she gets to know him better, she agrees to stay with him, but maintains a lie that she is only nineteen years old. However, when Carly’s ex-girlfriend Rosemary finds out April’s real age, April runs away to protect the people she has grown to care about.
April continues her journey as a traveling musician. She travels the country, playing gigs at coffee shops and dive bars, trying to convince herself that this nomadic lifestyle is a necessary part of her artistic pursuits. However, she finds herself feeling lonely and disconnected from a sense of identity on the road. After a near-miss with an attacker, she visits Binghamton and reconnects with Justin, a local college student with whom she has a casual relationship. When she jokingly invites him to join her on the road, he agrees and they set off together. But soon after, Justin discovers April’s habit of trespassing on empty summer houses and is upset that she has made him an accomplice to her crimes. He leaves her and she continues her journey alone.
April eventually arrives in Asheville and while busking she meets Ethan, a local professor who offers her a spare room. She begins playing music at Robert’s restaurant and the three of them form an unconventional family. However, when April discovers she is pregnant, she realizes the child could only be Justin’s and she leaves Asheville without explanation.
April receives a call from Margo that her father is dying and against her better judgement, she drives back to Little River for the first time in years. She is unable to bring herself to enter the church during the funeral and instead decides to drive to Ithaca. She leaves letters she had written to Carly over the years on the café counter and visits the campground where she buries her father’s guitar pick as a funeral to the person she wanted him to be, and comes to terms with the fact that his neglect was a reflection of his cowardice, not her worth.
The next morning, April’s water breaks and Carly finds her and rushes her to the hospital. After giving birth to her son Max, April wakes up to find her “elective family” surrounding her, Margo, Carly, and Ethan, all there to ensure she has support. Though she is initially concerned about her capabilities as a mother, April knows that she and Max have a network of love and support through her friends who will not abandon or neglect them.