Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Troubling and Topical

Wendy Walker
St. Martin's Press
July 12, 2016

The first chapter of All is Not Forgotten is a graphic description of the rape of teenage Jenny Kramer in the woods behind a house in upscale Fairview, CT. The rape itself is horrible but what follows is in some ways even more so. At the hospital, Jenny's parents, Tom and Charlotte, are offered "the treatment", a combination of drugs which will erase Jenny's memories. Tom and Charlotte jump at the chance with varying motivations; Charlotte to just "get past" it and Tom because he is rather passive. Several months later Jenny attempts suicide and it is clear that "the treatment" is not all it is cracked up to be.

All is Not Forgotten is narrated by the psychiatrist who is treating the Kramer family, a family whose marital fissures are exposed in the course of the novel. The doctor is also treating Sean Logan, a soldier who was also given "the treatment" after an incident in Iraq. For his own reasons, the doctor inserts himself into both the lives of the Kramers and the police investigation. The investigation itself is severely hampered by Jenny's lack of memory and the typical small town tendency to want to look outside the community. The collision of all the secrets and hidden motivations in the small, affluent town make for a number of twists leading to an explosive conclusion.

There are the inevitable comparisons to Gone Girl in all the descriptions of All is Not Forgotten. It seems that every psychological thriller these days is compared to it; not having read it, I can't address that. I was totally engrossed in the first third of All is Not Forgotten, but then I began to be bogged down in the neuroscience, the troubles in the Kramer family and above all, the very creepy narration of the doctor. I found his manipulations and motives deeply troubling, as well as the moral and ethical issues it raised. There are plenty of issues to be discussed, making All is Not Forgotten ideal book club fare. I won't go so far as to say that I enjoyed the book, but I found it exceptionally well-written and suspenseful throughout.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins for an advance digital copy in return for an honest review.

RATING- 3 Stars

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