kristina McMorris

The Pieces We Keep

Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes's grief over her husband's untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flying—but it's just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.

As Jack's fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack's dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to World War II, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to wound—and perhaps, at last, to heal.



  • 2014 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Finalist
  • 2014 Booksellers' Best Award Finalist
  • 2013 National Readers' Choice Award Winner

Behind the Story

A friend of mine once shared with me a news story about a young boy troubled by night terrors, all involving a plane crash during WWII. Apparently, over time the child's detailed knowledge convinced his skeptical parents that in a past life he had been a pilot who died in battle. I was fascinated, and for very personal reasons.

You see, my eldest son, often referred to as an "old soul," had also once suffered from night terrors and used to speak of a grandmother who didn't exist. Reflecting on this, I started to wonder: How would I have reacted if my own son suddenly spouted historical facts he couldn't possibly know? What if those "memories" linked back to secrets people wanted to keep buried?

From there, a true account of Nazi spies on American soil inspired the final threads of my novel. All of these elements gradually came together in a story that explores different forms of courage, faith, and loyalty, and what happens when each is put to the ultimate test.


"With gripping suspense, the novel alternates chapter by chapter between the two heroines and two time expertly woven and richly satisfying work of historical fiction that will touch any reader who has experienced love, loss, tragedy, or the impact of family secrets."
The Boston Globe
"[A] novel of espionage, reincarnation and doomed romance...McMorris' strong pacing keeps the two stories zipping along and all its many strings connected for a gratifying conclusion."
Kirkus Reviews
"The past collides with the present in this sensitive and multilayered story where the discovery of long-held family secrets leads to healing."
Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
"Kristina McMorris's novel moves masterfully between past and present and locks us straight in the heart with a love story, a story between a mother and son, and a story of healing. The Pieces We Keep gripped me from the first page and didn't let go."
Alyson Richman, bestselling author of The Lost Wife
"Impeccable research into similarly reported accounts and real World War II particulars, and plenty of accurate details, ground the story in reality. With nearly every chapter ending on a mini-cliffhanger, readers will have a hard time putting this absorbing book down."
RT Book Reviews
"McMorris creates a mesmerizing story that will linger with the reader long after the final chapter is finished. Combined with true-to-life stories of German saboteurs on American soil from World War II, the novel will evoke many thoughts, emotions, and, for some, memories."
Times Record News
"McMorris's attention to historical detail captures the poignancy of old letters or treasured relics that have borne witness to ancestral emotions. And at this time of year, as old passes into new, The Pieces We Keep reminds us that throughout history, everyone puzzles through the great questions in life, in search of love and a sense of belonging."
Bellingham Herald
"The Pieces We Keep is a compelling tale with memorable characters, written in McMorris' elegant and captivating prose. I didn't want this novel to end."
Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Call Me Zelda
"Kristina McMorris has written an utterly absorbing novel, which takes us from present-day Oregon to World War II London, and touches on profound themes. This is a beautifully woven story, at once gripping and uplifting."
Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier's Wife
"An intricately woven story with rich details and deep emotions, The Pieces We Keep is a haunting read...a perfect combination of historical fiction and modern mystery."
Amy Hatvany, author of Heart Like Mine
"Run; don't walk to pick up this book. Mixed with passion, pain, hurt, fear and love, this gripping story will keep you on the edge of your seat."
Night Owl Reviews
"Engrossing...McMorris makes it easy to identify with the characters and care about what happens to them. It's easy to recommend this beautifully written novel contrasting worlds apart that somehow connect and fuse."
The Daily News, Galveston County