Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review: 'All Is Not Forgotten' by Wendy Walker

Wendy Walker's "All is Not Forgotten" opens as distraught fifteen-year-old Jenny Kramer flees from a party into the Connecticut woods. She does not know that a masked predator is following her. This fiend brutally assaults her, leaving her bruised and traumatized. Jenny's parents allow their daughter's doctors to administer medication that will supposedly erase the memories of her terrifying ordeal. A psychiatrist, Dr. Alan Forrester, who later treats both the victim and her parents, insists that the treatment Jenny received will not eliminate her deep-seated negative emotions. His goal is to help the teenager recover her memories so that she can deal with them therapeutically.

This is a clever and engrossing tale that poses a number of intriguing questions: Is it better to eradicate toxic memories or work through them with the help of a skilled professional? How do painful early experiences affect our ability to navigate adult relationships? What boundaries should mental health practitioners never cross and why? The author's cast of characters is varied and intriguing. The aforementioned Dr. Forrester narrates clinically, presenting himself as an altruistic healer who supplies his patients with tools to surmount the hurdles that prevent them from living satisfying lives. Occasionally, however, he lets his mask slip. We gradually learn that Dr. Forrester may have ulterior motives that prevent him from remaining entirely objective.

Tom, Charlotte, Jenny, and the detective in charge of Jenny's case each offers his or her unique perspective (their observations and opinions appear in italics). As the story progresses, we are eager to learn who attacked Jenny and why. We also wonder whether or not this tormented young lady will ever recall the details of that fateful night. Adding to the angst, Jenny's mother and father, Charlotte and Tom, confess to Dr. Forrester that their dysfunctional childhoods left lasting scars. What will be the consequences of these disclosures? Walker throws in a few red herrings and some unexpected twists, and the disparate plot elements ultimately come together in a dramatic finale. "All is Not Forgotten" is a morally ambiguous, graphically violent, and unsettling psychological thriller that explores the complexity and perversity of the human mind.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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