What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay

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The Boston Globe named What We Keep is not Always What Will Stay a 2011 Best Book for Children

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books named What We Keep is not Always What Will Stay to their 2011 Blue Ribbons list

Angie never used to think much about God—until things started getting strange. Like the statue of St. Felix, her secret confidant, suddenly coming off his pedestal and talking to her. And ...

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What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay

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The Boston Globe named What We Keep is not Always What Will Stay a 2011 Best Book for Children

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books named What We Keep is not Always What Will Stay to their 2011 Blue Ribbons list

Angie never used to think much about God—until things started getting strange. Like the statue of St. Felix, her secret confidant, suddenly coming off his pedestal and talking to her. And Jesse Francis, sent home from Afghanistan at age nineteen with his leg blown off. Now he's expected to finish high school and fit right back in. Is God even paying attention to this?

Against the advice of St. Felix (who knows a thing or two about war), Angie falls for Jesse—who's a lot deeper than most high school guys. But Jesse is battling some major demons. As his behavior starts to become unpredictable, and even dangerous, Angie finds herself losing control of the situation. And she's starting to wonder . . . can one person ever make things right for someone else?


"An utterly engaging narrative with a witty and thoughtful protagonist."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

"Cockrell balances on the knife’s edge between comedy and tragedy. The depth and darkness of her themes makes an absorbing read for older young adults." The Boston Globe

"I loved this story with its deft use of magical realism, its wonderfully quirky yet believable characters, and its honest portrayal of relationships, good and bad."—Han Nolan, National Book Award-winning author of Dancing on the Edge

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Adult author Cockrell's YA debut is a touching story about a girl forced to confront her lack of control over her world. Fifteen-year-old Angie lives with her stepfather, Ben, refusing to move out when her mother leaves after a fight. She confesses her fears and concerns to a statue of St. Felix hidden in her church's basement, only to find that a kindly homeless veteran has been living there and has overheard her problems. Meanwhile, at school she is in a class with Jesse, a 19-year-old dropout who is re-entering school after losing a leg in Afghanistan. She is quickly attracted to him, even as his own problems become evident. Torn between her ongoing family issues and her concern over Jesse, Angie must deal with the harsh truth that there might not be anything she can do to help those she loves. Angie is a strong and witty narrator, and Cockrell leaves readers with plenty of food for thought as she navigates issues of homelessness, prejudice, post-traumatic stress disorder, and faith. Ages 12–up. (June)
Kirkus Reviews

Tenth-grader Angie discovers that the world is a vastly complicated place.

First, the statue of St. Felix in the church basement she's been in the habit of confiding in seems to come to life. Her parents are at odds over her scriptwriter father's decision to use one of her mother's painful memories in his current project.And an Afghan War vet returns to her high school to get his diploma at age 19, minus a foot—or, maybe, that's plus a mechanical limb.Ex-soldier Jesse seems lost and friendless, which appeals to Angie and her best friend Lily's impulse to do good. Not fully aware of the impact his wartime experiences might have on him, Angie gradually finds herself in an uncomfortable relationship with this older boy. While the adults in her life urge caution, Angie is certain that Jesse is suffering from a disease, albeit a psychological one. She has to decide what she can and cannot do to help him. Also needing help is Felix, possibly a saint or maybe homeless.While the story is written with a light hand—particularly humorous scenes around a Las Posadas parade and a certain boy who is interested in what's under her shirt—the plot takes an unexpectedly serious turn that readers may not be prepared for.

This entertaining, if slightly unfocused comic tragedy exploring moral obligation, innocence and guilt falls victim to a copout ending.(Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738726151
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 6/8/2011
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 1,486,200
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Amanda Cockrell has published critical essays, poems, articles, and books for children and adults. She is the founding director of Hollins University's graduate program in children's literature and managing editor of the university's literary journal. This is her debut YA novel. She resides in Roanoke, Virginia.

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