By Ericka Clay
Burling Gates, Missouri, is one of those towns where many of us would have been ready to run upon graduating from high school. However, there were also girls like Vienna Oaks, our main character in Ericka Clay’s Unkept: A Novel. Vienna knew from a young age that her life would be to stay in town and help run her family’s mortuary and funeral home business. And as the ever so dutiful and hard-working daughter, she stays.
It is easy to be looked at as the one in the family who did what was meant for them – unlike that of her waste-of-space brother, Troy. However, that doesn’t mean that deep down inside you weren’t wishing for another outcome, like the one Heather Hammel – one of Vienna’s torturers from school – ended up with…or the man she ended up with, Wylamd Turnbull, the love of Vienna’s life since they were kids.
I must say that I was completely enthralled in this book from the jump. It completely kept me captivated until the very last
page. The interesting way in which Clay chooses to introduce us to the world of Burling Gates is both in first person, through Vienna’s voice, and in third person but from Heather’s perspective. Each of these ladies lives such a different life, but the same as the other.
The plethora of characters the women introduce us to all are quite charming in some way. They each play an intricate role in how these women’s lives have unfolded. Everyone from Vienna’s best friend since childhood, Rosa, who now does the makeup in the mortuary; to Amber Ellery, Heather’s best friend since childhood who was a part of the group that tormented Vienna when they were in school hand now – strictly on the outside – is living the life of luxury.
I try my hardest in each review I write to not spoil the book for my readers because I know how irritated that makes me (If I ever do ruin one for you PLEASE email me!!) The reason I mention this is because I want you to know I’m not intentionally being vague. Unkept is an amazing book and definitely deserves a read if you enjoy contemporary fiction. Every word, in my opinion, is impassioned and there for a very particular reason, not just to fill pages.