First up, I cant claim to be an objective observer, since I have known the author, Amy Benesch since we were both 7 years old in Pittsburgh, Pa. and used to entertain each other with what we called 'Dick, Jane and Sally' stories (she would start a story, then I would come in for five minutes and spontaneously develop it, then it would be her turn, etc). By the time we got to be 12 a few years later, the stories had taken a somewhat more erotic turn (as do certain well-thumbed sections of 'Remember Me to Paradise'). I won't embarrass Amy by revealing here how many years ago all of that storytelling took place, but suffice to say it was quite a few decades ago when life was simpler, concepts like Kindle would have been as deeply science fictioon as Amy's Shapeshifters, and American first graders learned to read with 'Dick, Jane and Sally' books (hence our stories).
Reading the delightful "Remember Me To Paradise' takes me vividly back to that childhood story telling and it is marvelous to find out that here she is still doing it so many years later, with a great deal more sophistication and technique, but I can definitely feel the continuity. Certainly, Amy's slightly dry but deeply droll sense of humor and her skeptical but affectionate outlook on the universe and its denizens--human and otherwise, which she manifested way back when, remains very much intact and suffuses 'Remember Me to Paradise'.
So I cant claim to be objective in writing this review, but I can state honestly that I loved this book and I think its extremely well written and wildly entertaining; regardless of the fact that Amy is a lifelong friend. I'm not sure what I would have done in this situation if I thought the book sucked, but thankfully, I didnt have to deal with that scenario. My favorite parts of the book are when the Shapeshifter assumes animal forms (a cat, duck and pigeon), which gave Amy a chance to explore and convincingly protray the co-dependency between a little girl and cat, and, once the Shapeshifter becomes a duck and takes part in a great migration, to literally soar over the planet with a feeling of joyousness and liberation which I found exhilarating, liberating and deeply moving. Not to mention the hilarious game of 'Moving Targets' that the rough and tumble New York City pigeons of 'Remember Me to Paradise' play whenever they see people walking below...
Congrats to my wonderful friend Amy for having published this fine book and fingers crossed that it finds its audience and that success inspires her to publish many more books...Folks, take it from a non-objective observer: This lovely, lyrical, languid and lusty volume is going to turn you on and blow you away on multiple levels...So Buy It, Read It and Turn Your Friends and Family Onto It.
This is a wonderful and haunting story about a particular type of life form from the far reaches of the galaxy, known as a "shapeshifter," who has the ability to transform into any type of being. After coming to earth on a mission to contact others of his kind who somehow forgot who they were, he initially and sensitively explores the realm of animal kingdom. Finally, he becomes a human being, first a male and then a female, only, like the others, to forget what the mission was, getting caught up in the machinations and ramblings of the human mind.
For me, this novel is meant to be taken as an allegory about humankind's own forgetfulness of who we really are. At most times, it seems, we deny our own greatness and place in the universe. This tale is a reminder that we are so much more than the chatter going on in our own heads. The author has written a story that is a brilliant and tender analysis of how things seem to be from the point of view of various creatures. In so doing, the writer leaves the reader with an empty feeling and longing that may be the result of a mixture of the futility of it all, stirred in with the realization of our own power. The story issues a wake up call and a demand for a loving and peaceful world.
While I don't usually read fantasy or sci fi, I was attracted to this book by a friend's comments. I'm very glad I read it. The characters seemed very well drawn--true to life, ones I'd like to know (in some cases, anyway). Benesch has a good grasp on character motivation and speech, and the plot moved logically--or as logically as possible in a fantasy novel. I certainly don't want to give anything away, but I did wonder what it is about being female that makes one forgetful.