Keep Forever

Inspired by a True Story

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
280 Pages
Reviewed on 03/24/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Keep Forever is a work of fiction written for adults in the historical genre by author Alexa Kingaard. Inspired by real events surrounding the conflict in Vietnam, this heartfelt tale of loss, grief and the ways in which we heal from tragedy focuses on the lives of three youngsters growing up during the war. Paul and Sam bond during their service time as young men out in Vietnam, scarred by PTSD and the tragedy of their childhoods. When Paul comes home and meets Sam’s sister, Elizabeth, so begins a lifetime of shared pain, but also finding the path towards healing and true happiness.

Bittersweet, emotionally accurate and never over-sensationalized, author Alexa Kingaard has created a beautiful work of interpersonal drama set during one of the most harrowing periods of recent world history. The anguish that the soldiers returning from Vietnam feel, and the scars that plague them for the rest of their lives, is portrayed artfully through vivid descriptions, and dialogue and internal narrative that brings us close to the hearts and minds of the central characters. The story is multi-layered with themes of romance, grief, loss, mental illness following trauma, and a true sense of authentic history that takes us back and rips the nostalgic film away from the past. For fans of historical fiction which also has plenty of heart and realism, Keep Forever is sure to be a novel that will be read and re-read for a long time to come. A highly recommended read.

Heather Stockard

The lives of Sam, Paul, and Elizabeth become forever entwined during the Vietnam War. After the death of his parents, twenty-one-year-old Sam rashly joins the Marines in a bid to escape the sudden responsibility that has fallen on his shoulders. Instead of caring for his sisters, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth and the young twins, he runs off to war. It’s a decision he soon regrets. His stay in Vietnam is brief but he returns with scars that will last a lifetime. But he also brings a new friend, Paul.

Paul is nearly alone in the world. He never really dealt with the grief of losing his mother and now he has the war in his head as well. When Paul and Elizabeth meet there are instant sparks. As Elizabeth grows older, she and Paul grow close and their relationship blossoms into a lifelong love. Their relationship is tested by the raising of two children and by Paul’s struggles with his worsening PTSD and depression. When things finally reach a breaking point, Elizabeth must find a way to save both her husband and her family.

Keep Forever: Inspired by a True Story by Alexa Kingaard is a compassionate portrayal of one family’s struggle with PTSD in the wake of the Vietnam War. This book covers a lifetime of experiences but without feeling rushed. Elizabeth and Paul are both sympathetic and likable. Alexa Kingaard captures their struggles in a very realistic and touching manner. Keep Forever is a warm, well-written novel, filled with believable characters and lovely description; a must-read.

Trudi LoPreto

Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard is the story of Paul O’Brien, his wife Elizabeth and their two children. Paul comes home from the war, not because it was over but because of being in a battle that left him with shrapnel fragments and a broken spirit. Sam lost his left hand, and he and Paul became best friends for life, fighting the enemy, and then were sent home together. Sam lives in Boston and Paul in California. But when Sam and his sister, Elizabeth, move to California to start a new life, they move in with Paul. There are immediate sparks between Elizabeth and Paul that will last them a lifetime. Sam adjusts but Paul cannot stop seeing the horrors of Vietnam, the senseless killings and deaths. Life is not easy for Elizabeth and the children as they deal with the nightmares, the effects of Paul’s medication and the lifestyle they must adjust to, but they love him with all of their hearts and will do whatever it takes to help him get through life.

Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard is a poignant look at how one man and his family were affected by his being a Vietnam soldier who returned home with PTSD. The joys and heartbreaks that he endures are shared openly with the reader. Keep Forever paints a vivid picture of the returning Vietnam survivors and the way war changed their lives forever. I found myself crying for Paul, Elizabeth, and the children and smiling when good things came to them. Alexa Kingaard has written a beautiful tribute in a well-told fictional setting.