|Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: An intriguing look at what happens when are family torn apart by a crime are reunited, this may not be what you expect, but is still well worth a read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: June 2014|
|Publisher: Two Roads|
Four years ago, a family lost their brother, their older son, their grandchild. One day he was there, and the next he was gone. Missing. Presumed kidnapped or perhaps worse. Their lives have moved on, but their hearts haven’t. Walls have gone up around them, though, to protect from the pain, the crank calls, the false leads. So when news comes that Justin Campbell has been spotted, alive and, seemingly, well, it’s quite a lot to take in.
This is a book with two parts, the before and the after, but what was missing in a way was the during. Eric and Laura are not the only one desperate to find out what happened to their son during his ordeal, but if the author knows, he’s keeping it a closely guarded secret. Instead what we are presented with is the unravelling of a family who didn’t realise quite how delicate the threads holding them together were while they waited for news on the boy.
This is an exciting, intricate book that I enjoyed but it didn’t go where I wanted to, and left me frustrated as a result. It is a long book, longer than it perhaps needed to be, and at times my mind wandered and my eyes flitted to a paragraph further down the page to see if a piece of the action was upcoming. The idea that a child is kidnapped, held for years, and then freed is quite uncommon and so I expected this book to focus more on that, and less on an increasingly dysfunctional family. It seemed the situation with Justin was simply used as a trigger for their falling apart but not really explored further.
What really stood out for me was how an event that should have led to a happily ever after ending almost made things worse for the Campbells. It was clear they’d never really thought through how it would end if Justin was returned to them, perhaps naively assuming everything would be right in the world again and things would return to how they once were. Towards the end, the book sped up in a way that took me by surprise. Whether or not I liked the ending isn’t really the question here, but I would add that for all its hundreds of pages, this book managed to leave more questions unanswered than it did resolved.
Over the course of thirty-something chapters, I went from loving this book to liking it. A strong start faded away, leaving behind something that was still good, but not quite as special. The way to change that would perhaps have been a different ending, but more likely just extra time in Justin’s head, rather than his mother’s or grandfather’s. It’s his story, and it felt a bit like they hijacked it and tried to make it about them.
I’d like to thank the publishers for sending us an advanced copy to review.
On this theme we also enjoyed Dead To You by Lisa McMann
You can read more book reviews or buy Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston at Amazon.com.
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