The Unremembered Girl: A Novel
This creepy-ish blurb GOT me, and the ton of great reviews had me so excited to read this one. Was it a psych-thriller? Horror? Would it be a sinister love story? Oooooh I shudder and yet indulge in ALL of those genres! No matter what, I was sure I’d be in for a wild ride, maybe a crazy twist, and hopefully something super jaw-dropping. *my fingers were crossed*
Alas… it started good, it ended good, but the whole middle almost lost me altogether.A very slow read, a few tight knit families in a small community bound together by various relationships and tragedies that are slowly revealed as the story progresses. That said, what I thought would be the main character (or one that would stand out and be a constant, in this story), was strangely, barely noticeable at all.
Sure, I understand that she was reclusive and leery, quite and traumatized, and therefore not necessarily a talkative character, but while she introduced a sort of chaos in this family’s life, how things progressed, WITH her, was told to the reader, but not much “experienced” by the reader.
So what’s it about?
“Eve”, a solitary girl living in the woods (not quite sure what her age is… I’d say late teens) makes herself known to Henry and his dying mother when she jolts out of the woods to catch his mother as she’s falling to the ground.
He didn’t know the etiquette for greeting a dirty stranger he’d mistaken for Death, but his mother had no such hesitation.
“Please, I’d like to thank you . . . for your help . . .”
Mama’s voice trailed off as the stranger took a step backward at her words. A barely perceptible shake of a head came from within the shadows of the cloak.
“I don’t even know your name,” his mother said, raising a hand, palm up, toward the figure.
But the stranger took a quick step backward again.
“Please,” Mama said again, her voice soft and calm, like she was speaking to a wild animal spooked at finding itself trapped in a cage. In a way, perhaps she was.
Realizing that she has been watching them from afar, starving and alone, they slowly garner her trust by feeding her and coaxing her out of hiding.
The stranger’s face was set in a picture of compassion, and the girl’s heart seized at the expression she barely recognized. Her legs stalled, and she had trouble staying upright. Her senses were overloaded with the proximity of these two people, both so different than anyone she’d ever known.
She felt as if she’d wandered too close to the surface of the sun.
Losing her will to run, the girl felt her legs fold beneath her, and she dropped to the ground. Her face crumbled and she tried in vain to hide her head, to hide her heart, from whatever pain would inevitably come from getting too close to such searing warmth.
Once she acquiesces and enters there home (one fraught with tension due to a dying mother, past regrets, grieving and an angry step-father), she pretty much lives in the background, with occasional spurts of major issues, throughout this whole story.
“She growled at you? You let your mother bring home a woman who looks like she’s been dug out of a shallow grave, and you’re telling me she growled at you?” Livingston asked.
A constant in their lives, causing confusion and a need to care for her, the reader (and the family) can’t quite get a handle on what she’s about, and where this is going.
Henry (the son that still lives at home) takes it upon himself to care for her, and protect her, developing feelings for her that are much stronger than anyone is comfortable with.
…the thought flitted across Henry’s mind that the world was spinning beneath them, out of his control, and the best he could hope for was to cling tightly to the surface.
And they bond.
With these words, he formed the first unbreakable thread that would bind them together. He did it without conscious thought, with no regard to the consequences.
In fact, I was surprised to realize there was a developing love story (or this deep bonding) that I wasn’t feeling at all. AT ALL.
Not because I didn’t believe it could happen, in fact, once I realized it was a “thing” in this story, I was excited for where it would lead, but the entire love story, whatever connection was going on with the two main characters, was completely missing, to me.
And I’m not talking about “steamy scenes” or anything of that sort. I mean, an actual connection, actual intimate moments of caring and reciprocal trust… it was told to us, but I didn’t actual get to live any of it, and so I felt nothing.
Oh sure, I felt worry. No doubt… as those who read this will feel also. There’s a constant, subtle feel of menace, and danger, while not being sure exactly where it will come from, considering we know nothing about this girl, at first.
He’d gotten used to having her there, a quiet shadow by his side. More than that, he counted on having her there, hardly able to imagine a world without her presence. Yet, in many ways, she was as much a mystery to him as she’d always been.
Things eventually come to light, and it spins into a whole other story, but I found my attention waning, and myself disappointed in where this story could have gone, and how intense it could have become… such addictive potential, and yet… I was glad when it finally came to fruition.
Mama had told him often: “When you see a fight in front of you, son, there’s one thing you need to ask yourself. Is this the hill I want to die on today? Most of the time, the answer to that is no, probably not. But every once in a while, the answer will be yes. Because it matters that much. Learn to tell the difference and you’ll be just fine.”
Oh sure, the last quarter was interesting, and a bit nerve-wracking, and even quite heartfelt, but overall, I did not get out of it (entertainment and can-put-it-down wise), what I was hoping for.
Well written (even quite beautiful), a good touch of sinister and foreboding mixed with a small town close feel, but not as exciting as I was hoping it would be.