The People We Keep is a charming, though often heartbreaking, story, of a young woman who raised herself. Both her parents were alive, but her mother left long ago and her dad moved in with his girlfriend, leaving April to raise herself. Luckily, her dad’s ex-girlfriend didn’t break up with April when she broke up with her dad. Margo is there with support and love and a job waiting tables after school

But April is a singer/songwriter and school is getting in the way of her future. When her father, in a moment of anger, breaks her guitar, April takes his car and hits the road. Over the next several years she finds love, friendship, and heartbreak. She also builds a following and a routine traversing the eastern seaboard, calling home to Margo so she won’t worry.

She was sixteen when she hit the road and lying about her age and her history is second nature. She fears if she is honest, she will lose people, but when she finally finds someone who knows her whole story and they still love her, well that is a real crisis because she has a new reason to lie

I loved The People We Keep. How many of us know people who expect to be left, so they leave first? They might be good with casual friendships, but the experience of abandonment as a child has left them unable to trust love. After all, if your own parents who are obligated to love you unconditionally abandon you, what can you expect from anyone else. This is so real.

And so as a reader, I found myself telling April to give people a chance, don’t go, tell them your problem and you will see they still love you. But as a person who has seen this in action, no about of telling someone they are loved and valuable can fix what was broken until people find a way to accept their past.

This story felt emotionally authentic which is why it was so often heartbreaking.

I received an ARC of The People We Keep from the publisher through Shelf Awareness