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Remember Me Like This: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 13, 2014
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“It is as a writer that I admire the architecture of Remember Me Like This, the novel’s flawless storytelling. It is as the father of three sons that I vouch for the psychological authenticity of this depiction of any parent’s worst fears. Emotionally, I am with this family as they try to move ahead—embracing ‘the half-known and desperate history’ that they share. 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 [Bret Anthony] 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
“A gripping study of the complexities that follow a traumatic life event . . . The reader is transformed into a silent witness alongside the characters.”—Nylon
“[Johnston’s] first novel is so spellbinding, so moving, that one’s only complaint is that we had to wait ten years to read it. . . . Johnston is a master at creating honest portraits of family members that could easily be your neighbor. Make no mistake about it: Bret Anthony Johnston is a writer to watch.”—BookPage
“[A] strong debut . . . Johnston has a talent for drawing well-rounded characters. . . . This is a convincing and uplifting portrait of a family in crisis.”—Publishers Weekly
“An admirable achievement . . . The story starts where other stories might end. . . . [Readers] will find their expectations continually defied as characters refuse to follow a formulaic plot trajectory. . . . This is ultimately an uplifting reading experience owing to the believable love and warmth of the family.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“A sensitive and frequently suspenseful portrait of a family struggling to heal in the aftermath of great trauma.”—Booklist
“In this deeply nuanced portrait of an American family, Bret Anthony Johnston fearlessly explores the truth behind a mythic happy ending. In Remember Me Like This, Johnston presents an incisive dismantling of an all-too-comforting fallacy: that in being found we are no longer lost.”—Alice Sebold
“You could say that this book is ripped from the headlines, but that wouldn’t be fair. Bret Anthony Johnston’s riveting novel picks up where the tabloids leave off, and takes us places even the best journalism can’t go. Remember Me Like This is a wise, moving, and troubling novel about family and identity, and a clear-eyed inventory of loss and redemption.”—Tom Perrotta
“Both devastating and transporting, this is the rare novel a reader lives in, so persuasive is the impact, the insight, the heat of south Texas.”—Amy Hempel
“This mesmerizing story of loss and redemption on Texas’s Gulf Coast will take you in and hold you and not let go until it’s done with you, leaving you wiping at your eyes with the kind of soul-gratitude that comes only after experiencing true art.”—Andre Dubus III
“A brilliantly rendered portrait of a family in the aftermath of trauma . . . Beautifully crafted and so suspenseful you cannot look away, this is a novel as much about what is hidden as what is revealed; the balancing act is nothing short of masterly.”—Jill McCorkle
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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 THIS...it is beautifully written, engaging, and suspenseful, but I don't think it will go on my Top 10 list. Definitely worth the read.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kept waiting for something/anything of note to happen. Never did. No arc to the story or the characters. The dolphin subplot was meaningless and boring as was Eric's affair. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Doug Bradley
I borrowed this based on the NYT Book Review, and I got the deeply moving prose I sought. It was, unfortunately, a bit to verbose at times, and I found myself skipping paragraphs,... Read morePublished 12 days ago by thinfilm
To the many highly respected authors who threw wildly celebratory accolades at this ho-hum novel, shame on you. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Karen Lausa
What a great book, page turner, suspenseful but so brutally hard to read! I have two boys the same age and this book was too close to home. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sylvia Flores
I don't understand the rave reviews for this book from other readers... The writing was so descriptive, it was to the point of annoyance. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Laura Zoeller
I love a book with a great sense of place. This novel brings Corpus Christi, Texas to life. I have visited there several times and always liked that beautiful city. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This novel opens with the discovery of a body. Is it that of Justin Campbell, who disappeared 4 years ago at 11 years old? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Patti
I loved this book and have recommended it to others. It's beautifully written, freshly conceived, unexpected. It should mark the beginning of a brilliant career. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Linda H. Davis
I am astounded by this book.,,it is so bad.I read the glowing reviews about this book and decided to download it.I am so glad I did not spend money on it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer