By Wendy Walker
* * * We feel compelled to warn our readers that this is a sensitive topic and the story has graphic descriptions. This book is not for everyone. * * *
Jenny Kramer is a teenage girl that wanders a few hundred feet away from a local party. She is brutally violated in the woods behind the house where the party is given. While doctors are treating her physical injuries she is given a drug that will medically erase the traumatic memories of this assault. In time she physically heals from this horrific event but she will never be the same. Her country club mother, Charlotte prefers to pretend this tragedy did not touch their picture perfect world. Her father, Tom is obsessed with identifying the attacker and wants justice for his daughter. Dr. Forrester is familiar with this drug and its effect on victims. Will Jenny and her family, find the answers they need to completely recover from this nightmare.
BECKY This is such a tragic topic and it was difficult to read sections of this book. However, it is a disturbing but interesting psychological thriller. There are plans to make this into a movie and I am curious how they will retell this story. I encourage you to start the book when you have the time to read at least the first few chapters. I began by reading a small section and it took me awhile to get used to the style of storytelling. Pam, would you agree that it took a while to wrap your head around this story?
PAM I completely agree. It took me some time to become familiar with the author’s style of storytelling, specifically which character was talking. Parts of this story were very difficult to read. However, the author’s descriptions were of a clinical or investigative nature, which allowed the reader to be distanced from some of the emotion. Did you feel that the author used this type of description?
BECKY That is a great observation and although it took a bit to get use to, I enjoyed the distance it created. Once I acclimated to this style of writing it intensified the creepy factor for this story. It felt like I was reading a diary or listening in on a private conversation. What did you think about the possibility to erase memory through medical intervention? Would it be a blessing or a curse?
PAM I think it would first appear to be a blessing to anyone looking into this possibility. However, the emotional fallout described in the book would make anyone think twice. Perhaps a victim cannot fully heal and move past an event without the traumatic work of coming to terms with the details. As parents, we want to protect our children from anything harmful, either physical or emotional. This would have seemed as a blessing for their daughter. Tom questioned this method from the beginning, but Charlotte was insistent that it be used as soon as possible. If she had known the risks, do you feel Charlotte would have been as certain?
BECKY Charlotte wanted to put this tragedy in her past. I think that she would have brushed the risks aside because she wanted a fix for this terrible circumstance. I wonder what choice Jenny would have made if the decision would have been completely up to her that evening. Later in the story she will meet Sean and he has some experience with this drug treatment for PTSD. What did you think about this character? Was he a good support for Jenny or did he make the situation worse?
PAM What an excellent question about Jenny. I wonder what she would have chosen that night. Sean faced his own tragic events and is going through a similar experience with effects from the drug, as well as trying to come to terms with issues that have always caused personal struggles. Jenny and Sean had very different events that led them to their intersection, but find an understanding friend in each other. They felt that the other really understood when nobody else could. I was a bit uneasy about this relationship, although it did make a big difference for Jenny. Do you think this friendship helped Sean or gave him more to overcome?
BECKY He was an interesting character and I would have enjoyed learning more about him and his past. I feel that for both of them it was a relief to find someone that understood a similar pain. I think that focusing on Jenny was good for Sean and the connection was a balm for his scarred past. Do you agree that the female author was successful portraying significant male roles?
PAM Honestly, I didn’t realize the author was female until later in the story. I often read on my kindle and find that I do not refer to the title or author while reading a book. That means I usually cannot remember the name of the book I am currently reading! I find this to be true about the author, as well. I was convinced by the narrator of the story, although it was a male character. Since this character was telling the story from a personal, as well as a professional angle, it was an interesting perspective. Did you enjoy the way he told the story?
BECKY I enjoyed the style in which the narrator manipulated my mind while reading. At first we are held hostage not knowing whom was telling the story. Then later it was like you were reading a case file and only small bits of information is revealed. As disturbing as the situation was for this young girl, I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. I would look for this author again and I hope it is made into a movie as I think it would be interesting on the big screen. It is time to say goodbye to Jenny and pick up the next book. Please join us next month as we discuss, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman.