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Check It Out: The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

This is Jenn Delperdang, with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out.

   The 90’s are having a nostalgic moment right now—from TV show reunions to fashion trends, hints of this decade can be found everywhere.  Today, I am recommending The People We Keep by Allison Larkin—a story that begins in 1994 when sixteen-year-old April Sawicki is living alone in a run-down motor home in the small town of Little River.  April’s mother abandoned her when she was very young, and her father is mostly absent from her life—choosing to stay with his new girlfriend and her son.  Music is Allison’s escape, and her family legacy—her dad taught her to play the guitar, and to appreciate the music of Bob Dylan, James Taylor and other icons of his time.  

   April runs away to escape the neglect of her father, surviving like many runaways do—with a fake ID, and the generosity of strangers. She stops in Ithaca, New York—and lands a job at an edgy coffeehouse—where she begins to make real friends who feel like family.  As April finds good and kind people, she also encounters people who are jealous, vindictive, abusive, and dangerous—and to keep her secrets, she keeps moving—from town to town, getting by on gigs at open-mic nights, never staying too long in any place along the way. The drama of this story is authentic, and April’s character broke my heart—but this story also gave me hope.  There is a happy ending to April’s story, even if it takes her many miles and several years to find.  

   Check out The People We Keep by Allison Larkin at the Sioux City Public Library, and subscribe to the First Fifty Pages to hear an interview with the author.   

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.