All Is Not Forgotten
Amnesia is a terrible affliction. But what if it erases memories of horrific events? Would it then be a welcome condition? Would you choose not to remember the worst trauma you experienced? Would you decide to erase those memories for a loved one if given the chance? These questions are the catalyst for the drama in Wendy Walker’s ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN, a debut psychological thriller that examines the importance of memory and shared experience while delivering the story of a harrowing crime.
"ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN is a thought-provoking page turner that signals a bright future ahead for this talented, first-time thriller writer."
Teenager Jenny Kramer is brutally raped and tortured at a party one night. Her parents make the decision to administer a controversial drug treatment that keeps her from remembering the event. But they don’t follow up with the recommended immediate therapy, and in the coming weeks and months, they find that Jenny’s emotional and physical injuries did not go away just because her memories were never allowed to fully form. Jenny and her parents struggle to find ways to understand the attack and cooperate in the criminal investigation without her memories. Increasingly, Jenny feels disconnected, isolated and suicidal, while her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with finding his daughter’s rapist. Jenny’s mother, Charlotte, is concerned for her daughter but worried about her closely guarded secrets being revealed in the aftermath.
The family seems to finally start the healing process with psychiatrist Dr. Alan Forrester, the frankly creepy narrator of the book. He strives to mitigate Tom’s rage, open up Charlotte’s secrets and, most importantly, retrieve Jenny’s memories. Forrester also introduces Jenny to a combat veteran who has undergone the same treatment in the hopes that they will benefit from each other’s experiences. Over the course of the novel, however, Forrester’s clinical detachment starts to crumble, and his own motives for involvement in the case become increasingly questionable. First, there are questions about Forrester’s teenage son, and things get even more suspicious as Forrester begins to reveal truths about himself. All the while, Jenny, the victim of a horrific assault, suffers as she deals with the trauma and scars from something she cannot actually remember. Her further manipulation in therapy is uncomfortable to read.
The book grapples with some wonderfully provocative questions, but risks sensationalizing Jenny’s rape as Walker allows the perspective of one main character to dominate and continually objectify Jenny. Still, the scientific/therapeutic premise is quite interesting, the moral issues are compelling, and the whodunit is mostly successful. The details of the rape are told and retold in graphic detail, and the emotional intensity of the story runs high despite Forrester’s attempts at objectivity. Walker builds tension as the novel moves toward its not-altogether-surprising but nevertheless shocking resolution.
ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN is a thought-provoking page turner that signals a bright future ahead for this talented, first-time thriller writer.
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on July 11, 2016