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Remember Me Like This: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Bret Anthony Johnston
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The New York Times Book Review • Esquire • BookPage

A gripping novel with the pace of a thriller but the nuanced characterization and deep empathy of some of the literary canon’s most beloved novels, Remember Me Like This introduces Bret Anthony Johnston as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today. With his sophisticated and emotionally taut plot and his shimmering prose, Johnston reveals that only in caring for one another can we save ourselves.
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

Four years have passed since Justin Campbell’s disappearance, a tragedy that rocked the small town of Southport, Texas. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown in the bay? As the Campbells search for answers, they struggle to hold what’s left of their family together.
Then, one afternoon, the impossible happens. The police call to report that Justin has been found only miles away, in the neighboring town, and, most important, he appears to be fine. Though the reunion is a miracle, Justin’s homecoming exposes the deep rifts that have diminished his family, the wounds they all carry that may never fully heal. Trying to return to normal, his parents do their best to ease Justin back into his old life. But as thick summer heat takes hold, violent storms churn in the Gulf and in the Campbells’ hearts. When a reversal of fortune lays bare the family’s greatest fears—and offers perhaps the only hope for recovery—each of them must fight to keep the ties that bind them from permanently tearing apart.
Praise for Remember Me Like This
“Enthralling . . . [an] exquisitely moral mystery of how we struggle to accept and love the people we call family.”The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“I love this novel.”—John Irving
“An achingly beautiful and psychologically insightful portrait of a family . . . [a] fully immersive novel in which the language is luminous and the delivery almost flawless.”The Boston Globe
“Riveting . . . [The novel] flows like it was plotted by Dennis Lehane but feels like it was written by Jonathan Franzen.”Esquire
“Tremendously moving . . . There’s real humanity in Johnston’s writing, and it’s heartening to spend time with these folks as they relearn how to be a family.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Deeply empathetic and masterfully constructed . . . a novel that has both the feel of a great epic and the focused intensity of standing on a highwire.”Salon

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Four years after he disappeared, 16-year-old Justin Campbell is miraculously returned to his family after a flea-market vendor recognizes him from the ubiquitous missing-child posters that paper the town of Corpus Christi, Texas. In the years since he was kidnapped by a violent pedophile, his shattered family members have each found solitary ways of coping with his absence. His father, Eric, is involved in an extramarital affair; his mom, Laura, has spent hours volunteering at Marine Lab, caring for sick dolphins; and his brother, Griff, has isolated himself from friends, spending all his time skateboarding in the cracked pool of the half-razed Teepee Motel. They are stunned and overjoyed at Justin’s return, but his reappearance also reveals the fragility of their wounded family at a time when they need all of their strength to help ease Justin’s reentry. Debut novelist Johnston, a 5 under 35 honoree from the National Book Foundation and director of the creative-writing program at Harvard, has crafted a sensitive and frequently suspenseful portrait of a family struggling to heal in the aftermath of great trauma. --Joanne Wilkinson

About the Author

Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a best book of the year by The Independent (London) and The Irish Times, and the editor of Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and a 5 Under 35 honor from the National Book Foundation. He teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the director of creative writing.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1617 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (May 13, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,674 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dream within a nightmare within a nightmare April 24, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Bret Anthony Johnston, where have you been all my reading life? For a character-based reader like me, this luminous debut book is sheer manna from heaven. It’s certain to make my personal Top Ten list of 2014.

The concept is deceptively simple: an 11-year-old boy named Justin goes missing one day and is likely abducted. His parents, Eric and Laura, and his younger brother Griffin are all well-liked in their Corpus Christi community; they muddle their way through the four ensuing years, coming apart personally and as a family. And then (no spoiler – it’s in every book blurb), Justin is found.

And there’s where the happy ending comes in. Except…it’s not. The genius of this author is that – without any manipulation – he closely examines what the granting of this fortuitous return really means to each of them. The emotions are so real that the writing took my breath away. Take this description of his mother, Laura: “Those four years had gutted her family. How could she not understand such hideous gravity? Everywhere she looked, the absolute and crushing weight of the past. At times she’d been bloated with sadness, leaden and unmovable. Other times, she would have sworn she was a sieve.” And later: “Life started to feel – what? Not normal. Not familiar. Inhabitable. Navigable.”

There is not one false note in this book. Not one. The writing is assured, confident and clear eyed; the characters are so real they could step out of the pages; and the insights are organic and beautifully realized. There are no huge surprises or “drama for the sake of drama”. These are all good people, regular and steady and seemingly unafflicted.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Easy to Forget April 24, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS picks up where most books end off. Usually, the kidnapped child is found and they all live happily ever after. However in this book the story just begins when Justin Campbell is found after 4 years of abduction. This book focuses on the fallout an event like this has on the family and the community, in this case a small Texas town near Corpus Christi. Each member of the family reacts differently to Justin's return and each is more interesting than the next.

This book seems very timely and current. The reactions of the characters seem realistic and I could see myself in several of them, probably the grandfather most, if truth be told. He is the most vindictive of the bunch. I was pretty much glued to this book from beginning to end and I have since passed it on to a friend who is also enjoying it. I predict this book will be a big hit with book clubs this summer. I only gave it 4 stars because, while I really enjoyed it, it didn't hit home the way I thought it would. Perhaps because I am not a parent myself. If I had children I'm sure my reaction would have been much stronger. I had the same experience when I read THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN several years ago. My mom raved about it and I liked it a lot, but I wouldn't add it to my all-time favorites list. The same goes with REMEMBER ME LIKE is beautifully written, engaging, and suspenseful, but I don't think it will go on my Top 10 list. Definitely worth the read.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Oh boy, going to try not to gush too much about this novel. This is one really great read and I hope to (succinctly) tell you why you should pick it up:

Plot: The novel opens wide with a body floating under a bridge in Corpus Chrisy Texas. No one can tell if it is male or female, old or young but we are assured that none of the witnesses relate it to the local boy, Justin Campbell, " who'd gone missing years before". What comes next is a fantastically crafted story detailing what it is to live after you get your happy ending. Months before that body was discovered, the Campbell family had their happy ending, Justin, who had been missing for over 4 years, was found and returned. The story primarily centers around the impact his return has on the nuclear family. The author very cleverly lets the story glide along buffeting up not only bits from Justin's captivity but also from the lives his parents (Eric and Laura) and brother (Griff) have been living back home. As the story moves forward we also look back. I don't want to say too much more about the overall plot line because I would hate to spoil anything for anyone else, it really is fantastically engaging and original.

Characterization: It is a rare author who can round out a character more by using (internal and external) narrative and dialog rather than descriptive text. Here we get to know our characters through their actions and thoughts and the way other characters perceive them. For example, we know the mother, Laura, is almost unhinged with grief because we are with her as she unspools and we are with others as they react to her. It is refreshing as a reader to be allowed to draw our own conclusions from characters actions and reactions rather than be told what we are to think.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit too much of a good thing July 17, 2014
By davec
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bret Anthony Johnston chose a well-worn literary and cinematic premise for this novel, the missing child. However, rather than just formulating a cops-and-perps story, Johnston elected to focus upon the emotional toll exacted by the crime -- and its aftermath -- on the victim's family. He has received much well-deserved praise for this original and challenging approach. Johnston is a polished stylist and wordsmith, with an eye for the details that constitute "everyday life" and "ordinary people." The respect he has for his characters is evident in his meticulous, expansive accounting of what each is experiencing internally. And, for me, therein lies the rub. While I was aware of what Johnston was attempting to do, the detail-to-plot ratio became so excessive that the book, which I really wanted to love, eventually wore thin -- a brilliant narrative stalled under the weight of its own descriptive language. For this reason, I'm giving the book a 3.5. That said, Johnston is a gifted writer, and I'm not done with him. Perhaps I'll have a look at his short-story collection.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not exactly what I was expecting but a good read.
Published 5 days ago by Karen
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
rather depressing
Published 9 days ago by Jennie Harshman
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written book you should read!
This is probably the heaviest novel I have read for a long time. It is a deep analysis into what the kidnap of a child does to every member of a family and when that child is found... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Gill's reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Family in Crisis
This is a novel about a family in crisis. They had been in crisis mode for so long that they didn't know how to react when their situation changed for the better. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Susan R
2.0 out of 5 stars Am I crazy?
I thought it moved terribly slow, and I found myself simply not caring about the characters. I am completely astounded at how well this book has been received. Baffled.
Published 13 days ago by Jelly Bean
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember Me Like This: Haunting
When Justin Campbell disappears from his family, it seemed they died 1000 deaths worrying about his whereabouts. Read more
Published 15 days ago by J.E. Ocean
5.0 out of 5 stars I Will Remember This
I will remember this book, and if I could give it more than 5 stars, I would. The narrative taps in to so much that we all dread and does it in such a clever and considered way... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Hard-marker
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Written
Overall, I liked reading the perspectives of the Campbell family after the return of Justin and their reflection of how they dealt with him missing. Read more
Published 24 days ago by TAB
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, makes you think.
Fantastic reading, very provocative story.
Published 1 month ago by coochmon
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Very engaging but agree with other reviews re drawn out descriptions,did expect a twist or elaboration on certain aspects of the book... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sonja O
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