Review of All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All is Not Forgotten is written exclusively from the hard, cold point of view of Alan, the psychiatrist treating Jenny Kramer, a young victim of a vicious rape. After her attack, Jenny's mother overrules the better judgment of her father and opts for an experimental treatment—one that will leave Jenny with no memory of her attack. There was no DNA or physical evidence, no witness, and Jenny said the attacker was an unknown man who was wearing a mask. Why then, her mother wondered, should Jenny be forced to live with those terrible memories?

Even without the memories, Jenny suffers in the aftermath of the attack, and the family goes to see Alan to help Jenny. But he becomes the deepest confidante to the family, and we learn all about these flawed people and how guilt—both earned and unearned—poison their relationships.

Wendy Walker weaves this tale and leaves the reader gasping for breath sometimes. It all feels real, so personal. Listening to Alan talk about Jenny, her parents, and his own family leaves you asking questions of yourself, remembering parts of your own life you would rather forget. The boy who broke your fragile, teenage heart, the disappointment when you learn your trust in someone was misplaced, that cold dread you feel when you realize you opened up to someone you shouldn't have.

Part of the disquiet that came from the book was because it was narrated by Dylan Baker. You probably don't recognize the name. Neither did I. But then as I listened, within the first hour, I realized I knew that voice. You probably do too. Dylan Baker is one of those "that guy" actors, the one who pops up in multiple supporting roles in TV dramas and small, but memorable film roles.

This guy:

It was this familiarity, I think, that made me take the flaws in Alan's character so personally. "Oh Alan," I said to myself, more than once. "You're better than this." Or maybe it was how closely his personality mirrors my own—the insistence on behaving correctly, the almost toxic levels of pragmatism. I could see myself very clearly in Alan. So when the end came and I saw how deep his secrets went, it was like a slap in the face. I have often said the best writers can hold up a mirror and show you who you are, who you want to be... and who you pray you never become.

Wendy Walker's construction of Alan's voice, the pace of how he unfolds the story to us, and the way the lives of the Kramer family weaved in and out of the others in the story, were all flawless. Her writing is glorious and when I have taken some time to read some easy, flowery chick lit, I will read some more of her work.

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