Book Review: Remember by Patricia Smith (a/k/a just wow)

One of my resolutions for 2020 is to pump up new authors. Publishing is a tricky, fickle business. The best seller lists and book markets trend to those who already have huge followings; names like Patterson, Cussler, Roberts, Baldacci, King, Roberts, and Grisham leave little room in the top twenty for names like Smith. Patricia Smith.

Patricia’s debut novel, Remember, is a psychological thriller centered in the four walls of Portia Willow’s home. When we meet Portia, something bad has happened. Something really bad. But traumatized Portia cannot remember what it is.

Portia already suffered from life-long, severe social anxiety when a tragic accident took the lives of her mother and sister. Portia desperately misses her little sister, Piper. Piper was her only friend and her social opposite. Piper was Portia’s window to the outside world, a window slammed shut with Piper’s tragic death. The loss is devastating to Portia. Battles with the mother who never understood her play on repeat in Portia’s mind, inflicting their damage over and over again. Portia and her father soak their grief in beer and cigarettes, eeking out a secluded, co-dependent, pitiful existence. They crawl through the next few years with only television for company, occasionally supplemented by “help” from her grandmother and from Susan, best friend and business partner of Portia’s mother.

Along comes change in the form of Ethan Torke, the boy across the street. Ethan encourages Portia to start moving forward, to let go of her grief, to have a life. Portia becomes something she never thought she’d be: in love. Seesawing between past and present, Portia desperately tries to reconcile her fragile past with the blood now covering her hands.

In deceivingly simple prose, Smith weaves a tale that, in the end, reveals a truth as shocking as it is heartbreaking. Remember illustrates the immense pain and damage humans can inflict on one another simply by failing to act.

Remember is the first book I’ve read in one sitting in a long while. Pick it up, but be prepared not to put it down til the end.

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