Publisher: St Martin's Press
First Published: July 12, 2016
First Line: "He followed her through the woods behind the house."
Book Description from GoodReads: In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut 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, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.
As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
My Review: I have never read a book that started off with such a startling, well written yet ruthlessly violent beginning. All Is Not Forgotten begins with a highly graphic opening scene as the reader witnesses a brutal rape of a teenage girl. That would normally stop me from picking up this book but the premise, about a drug that could eradicate negative memories, was enticing.
The book starts out with high energy but then the pace slows down considerably as the narrator goes into a lot of detail regarding the science/psychology of PTSD and this new treatment that Jenny experienced. Walker clearly describes, using various metaphors, how the brain files away memories and how this drug 'could' work in those who need to forget. But this drug isn't the miracle they thought it to be. Even though Jenny was given the drug to forget, she feels like something is not right and that although her brain may forget the memory her body does not. It's at this point that her parents send her to a psychiatrist to help reveal the memory so she can begin to heal.
"She had no memory of her rape but the terror lived on in her body."
The book started to falter for me when it came to the narrator. This omniscient narrator, whose identity isn't revealed until about a quarter of the way through, was hard to get behind. He's egotistical, overly clinical and obsessive in his desire to have Jenny confront her memories. For a book that deals with such emotional experiences as rape and PTSD I wasn't fond of the unemotional and detached way of story telling which resulted in me never feeling like I got to know Jenny's side of things. He speaks to the reader (not a favourite style of mine) and while he frequently includes comments from other characters to get their take, all dialogue is filtered through his interpretations and their inclusion within the story wasn't smooth.
The narrator provides ample details for the reader but his narration was quite choppy and jumped around with him frequently mentioning something/someone and telling the reader "more about that later". Then why mention it at that point? What this book does have are ethical dilemmas that would be great fodder for book clubs and result in some interesting discussions.
This is a slow burn kind of read with the big reveal not happening until, quite literally, the final handful of pages. I enjoyed the twist and learning the identity of the culprit which dramatically changed the way I viewed one of the characters. But ... overall, this was a miss for me. While I liked the premise, was initially impressed with how strongly the book started off, I struggled to stay with it and unfortunately I can't say that I enjoyed the journey. This book had a great premise, shockingly vivid descriptions of rape and PTSD and a good twisted ending but unfortunately the pace, lack of emotion and connection with the characters resulted in my lower rating.