Everything She Forgot
by Lisa Ballantyne
Release Date: October 6th 2015
2015 William Morrow
Ebook Edition; 448 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher
3 / 5 Stars
They’re calling it the
worst pile-up in London history. Driving home, Margaret Holloway has her
mind elsewhere—on a troubled student, her daughter’s acting class, the
next day’s meeting—when she’s rear-ended and trapped in the wreckage.
Just as she begins to panic, a disfigured stranger pulls her from the
car just seconds before it’s engulfed in flames. Then he simply
Though she escapes with minor injuries, Margaret
feels that something’s wrong. She’s having trouble concentrating. Her
emotions are running wild. More than that, flashbacks to the crash are
also dredging up lost associations from her childhood, fragments of
events that were wiped from her memory. Whatever happened, she didn’t
merely forget—she chose to forget. And somehow, Margaret knows deep down
that it’s got something to do with the man who saved her life.
Everything She Forgot is one of those books where I am having a difficult time deciding exactly how I feel about it. It is being released as a suspense / mystery novel and I don't really feel it measures up to that category at all as I didn't really find it suspenseful or mysterious; to be honest, I thought quite a bit of it was a dull and predictable. On the other hand, I did enjoy the development of the relationship between Moll and George, and if you look at the novel as an exploration of relationships and traumatic events and the impact those events have on various lives, the novel is definitely worth a look.
For whatever reason, I developed a deep empathy for George, or Georgie was he was called by friends and family. There was something sweet and naive about the man, despite some of the things he had done to survive, that really touched me. For him to survive his very abusive childhood and develop into a man who was compassionate and caring shows strength of character and a strong personality, one who can face many challenges and succeed. His family situation actually made me sick to my stomach and I had a hard time reading some of the scenes; while some of them were very descriptive, it's what was left to the imagination that was even more disturbing. Even though George made many mistakes, it was easy to forgive him because he was likable. I also liked how he was with his daughter Molly; he was kind and loving and because of that, she developed a bond with him that was lovely and easygoing. She also taught him that he could learn to read and write which gave him the strength to continue on his own afterwards; I've met a few strict nuns in my life, although none like the one in this novel thank goodness, but I did have to stand with my nose in the corner a couple of times. It's strange to think that even in 1985 children were still being told that being left-handed was wrong and being punished for it; this happened to my dad when he was in school, but that was in the late 1930s, not 1985.
The plot was a bit of a challenge to get into simply because it was not what I was expecting. I thought it would be more suspenseful and as it turned out, there was more of a focus on relationships and trauma. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when you are expecting a suspense novel, it can be somewhat frustrating; I think presenting it differently would have made a huge difference in how I approached it. However, it is worth reading simply because of the relationships between the characters and how the effects of the trauma were presented; I did enjoy that aspect to this novel. I also liked how Angus added to the effect, but did feel like I was back in the 1950s instead of 1985 as his thinking was so negative. You would think a journalist would be less judgmental, but he sneered and looked down at everybody; I would have been interested to know how his story ended though. I do have to admit however, that his part of the story was my least favourite as some of the things he did were a bit upsetting; it was not easy to read the thoughts of an abuser who quoted Bible passages at the person he was abusing, justifying what he was doing.
Everything She Forgot is more a story about families, trauma, secrets, abuse, and choices rather than being a suspense novel. While the alternating story lines are interesting, I was disappointed at the lack of suspense as this was how the novel was presented. The end was not quite what I expected although it was interesting, and I would have liked a bit more follow-up on some of the other characters as there was no mention of them in the end. I did care rather strongly for some of the characters and empathized quite a bit with their situation, but I disliked other characters just as strongly and had a hard time reading their story lines, which made it more difficult to get through. It was fairly predictable, but if you go into it expecting a story about family, you will enjoy it a lot more.