*originally published on 06/12/2016
“Deeply intriguing and provocative, All Is Not Forgotten explores intricate family relationships against the backdrop of searing suspense. A novel filled with twists, surprises, and a plot that keeps you guessing.
All Is Not Forgotten is not to be missed.”
—Karin Slaughter, author of PRETTY GIRLS
ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN Written by Wendy Walker
2016; 310 Pages (St. Martin’s Press)
Genre: psychological thriller, suspense, mystery
(I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY)
What if you could erase one of the most horrific moments in your life?
Fairview, Connecticut is the kind of place you want to raise your kids and where you know all your neighbours. Then one night at a party for teenagers, Jenny Kramer is brutally attacked and raped. She must go through surgery just to fix the physical wounds. To fix the emotional side her parents decide to try a controversial drug that medically erases the memory of her rape. As part of the treatment she must also see a therapist – who tells us her story and her parents through therapy sessions. While Jenny’s father is focused on finding the rapist and getting justice, her mother is trying to forget it all happened to them. Jenny, although she cannot remember the assault is starting to feel things she can’t explain. Alan, the family therapist, takes them individually on a journey of coming to terms with the brutal assault. What comes out are more secrets and will keep you guessing.
When I was first offered a chance to read and review All Is Not Forgotten I was intrigued by the synopsis but still not 100% sure it was my kind of novel. I wasn’t sure how “the treatment” would be played out. I didn’t want it to be too sci-fi or not explain the science behind the medication and expect the reader to just buy. Seeing the book trailer and that Reese Witherspoon was optioning the book to make a film I made a few more checks on the pro side. (Witherspoon is known for making films that give women a greater presence in the industry). What sealed the deal was that a reviewer, I admire and has the same taste in suspense as me loved the book. And, she hasn’t disappointed me yet 😉
I loved this novel – the writing was haunting and so vivid much like my favourite author, Karin Slaughter’s writing. The suspense had me flipping through my eReader not just to figure it all out but to see where it goes and it comes together. The best part of this novel was the fact that I found myself pondering so many themes…morals, values and ethics. While All Is Not Forgotten is an entertaining read…prepare to find your mind wondering and getting you deeper in Walker’s world and writing.
Walker is fabulous in creating characters. Again, like Slaughter her characterization is realistic as they are perfectly flawed and broken. There is no judgement by the author but there are consequences for their actions. As a reader – I love this! The following is Wendy’s own words on Jenny Kramer’s mother’s Charlotte Kramer – who in my opinion is such a fascinating character. With the book Gone Girl I did not like the characters and found myself not really caring what happened to either of them. This is what makes me dislike a book. I at first didn’t care for Charlotte yet I wanted to know more about her. And, as I did I found myself becoming warmer to her. At the end you just realize that as a human you more than one side and the past lingers in the present. There was no character I would say is my favourite or I loved but I wanted to know more and felt invested.
Thank you, Wendy for writing this great guest post.
GOOD CHARLOTTE/BAD CHARLOTTE
Written by Wendy Walker
One of the most gratifying moments in the publication of All Is Not Forgotten was a conversation I had with actress and producer Reese Witherspoon, and her partner Bruna Papandrea at Pacific Standard. They were excited to produce the film and we were discussing the themes and characters in the book.
Usually, conversations about the novel focus on Jenny and the issues surrounding memory science and the treatments for PTSD and trauma. These are fascinating issues, but All Is Not Forgotten has many other relatable topics that were meant to make the story thought provoking as well as entertaining. One of those topics has to do with Charlotte Kramer, our young victim’s mother, and the character Ms. Witherspoon felt so passionate about that she plans to portray her in the film.
When I gave the first fifty pages of the manuscript to my agent, she said to keep on writing! Everything was working – but what was I going to do with the mother? She was coming across as unlikeable and that is usually not good for a main character who is not a villain in the story. I told her not to worry – I had a plan for Charlotte that would change everything she thought and felt about her. Confronting this challenge was one of the most enjoying aspects of writing this book. Every time I got to a section where I could be Charlotte, I felt a twinge of excitement because I knew readers would get her in the end.
As the story unfolds, we come to learn about Charlotte’s past, what drives her, what scares her, and what is at the heart of her internal conflict. She has built a perfect life and is emotionally unable to see it tarnished in any way. But why? And why does she do things herself that could destroy this life she is fighting so hard to protect?
We come to learn that there are two selves living with Charlotte – Good Charlotte and Bad Charlotte. Good Charlotte has dominated, and is responsible for the perfect life with Tom and their children in the bucolic town of Fairview. But Bad Charlotte lives in the shadows, rattling the bars of the cage she has been relegated to since Charlotte’s dark childhood. Good Charlotte must let her out in small ways in order to keep her locked in her cage. It becomes a force she cannot suppress. The only way to stop it is to pull Good Charlotte from her pedestal and live an authentic life as just Charlotte – the good and the bad – exposed to the world.
What I love about this theme, and what resonated with Ms. Witherspoon and so many other people I have met with, is that we all have aspects of this fractured self. We all think things we do not say out loud, do things we wish we hadn’t, and desire things that are not good for us. We are all flawed in this way, and that is part of what makes us human. I think readers will hear a voice inside saying “yes!” when Charlotte is deconstructed, because they will see themselves in her. They will relate to her. And those are the connections between readers and characters that make books stay with us after the last page is turned.