Thursday, November 17, 2016

All Is Not Forgotten

Our lives are comprised not of minutes, hours or days but of moments, both happy and sad, that help shape us. What if we could erase the darkest of memories, those moments best forgotten? If the question wasn't could we, but should we, then would we? Would you erase the pain of loss, fear or heartbreak? Would we miss them as if having lost some integral part of ourselves? All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker offers just that hypothetical dilemma in the guise of a riveting psychological thriller.

From the publisher: “It begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect. Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, struggles to pretend this horrific event did not touch her carefully constructed world.”

I found All Is Not Forgotten provocative, intriguing and engaging, yet I can't say that I loved the book. The science at the center of this compelling tale is still hypothetical, but the family dynamics which propel the story are firmly rooted in reality and well fleshed out by the author. Though I found the plot suspenseful, the pacing deliberate but not plodding, and the narrative around the rape disturbing and dark yet authentic to the tale and not gratuitous, I felt the choice of narrator diminished Jenny's voice and the chance for her to own her journey. In essence, the narrator hijacked Jenny's tale of fight and survival and made it instead about his Machiavellian plans and manipulations.

Despite my issues with the construct of the novel, I was utterly fascinated by the subject of memory and its manipulation as planted before us in this memorable tale, and the dilemma of whether it's best to forget or to face our boogeymen and wounds, even those more painful than those that bleed, head on. I'll say that while I found our narrator's actions at times contemptible, on this thought-provoking issue I wholeheartedly agree with his contention that moments of pain and trauma must be faced not erased, for in that confrontation can be found hope, healing and strength. The truth is that some memories even when seemingly forgotten still linger within us, like ghost in rattling chains, because once lived they're forever a part of us. As such, it seems unsurprisingly inevitable that excising those memories would engender the phantom pain of a missing part of us; their absence mourned by mind and soul.

Though I didn't love All Is Not Forgotten, I love having read it for it was a frustratingly thought-provoking, twisty and page-turning tale, which no matter your sentiment by book's end, you most definitely won't soon forget.