Wednesday, August 10, 2016

book review: All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

The backstory: I saw Wendy Walker speak at ALA in June. I started All Is Not Forgotten the morning I heard her speak, as I figured it would be a good book to read during a conference--something that would keep my attention, but that I could put down while I was busy attending programs and events. I was right on one of those.

The basics:  "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."

My thoughts: From the beginning, All Is Not Forgotten skillfully straddles a line between realistic fiction and slightly futuristic fiction. The controversial drug Jenny receives doesn't yet exist in this form, but it doesn't seem very far from reality. This set-up allows Walker to tell a cautionary tale, but this novel is much more than that. Through Jenny's parents, who have a beautifully fractured, realistic marriage, Walker is able to show two different, but understandable perspectives. Simmering below the surface of this novel are themes of female autonomy I wish Walker would have explored more.

It's hard to speak about All Is Not Forgotten without giving too much away, but I'll speak generally about some of the things I liked best about this novel, aside from the wide-ranging cast of characters and its small town setting. The narrator is perhaps my favorite part of this book. The reader doesn't know who the narrator is right away, and even once you learn the identity, there are more interesting intersections that make this more of a psychological thriller than an ordinary thriller.

The verdict: All Is Not Forgotten is an utterly gripping thriller. I read it compulsively. As I reached its conclusion, however, I realized the thrills were likely gone. In this sense, the novel is authentic and realistic--it's characters feel like real people. While I appreciate the novel's conclusion in this sense, for such a twisty ride, I was midlly disappointed there wasn't one more twist. Ultimately, it's a book that is thrilling, engaging and thought-provoking, but it's not one that will likely stick with me. Looking for a book to devour in a day or on a flight? All Is Not Forgotten won't disappoint.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 320 pages
Publication date: July 12, 2016 
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy All Is Not Forgotten from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Wendy Walker at ALA, June 2016
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