Sunday, August 25, 2019

Book Review: 'The Forgotten Ones' by Steena Holmes

The Forgotten Ones: A Novel by [Holmes, Steena]
Canadian author Steena Holmes writes stories that touch every parent’s heart in one way or another. Her award winning books include THE WORD GAME, ABBY’S JOURNEY, SAVING ABBY, EMMA’S SECRET, FINDING EMMA, STILLWATER RISING, STILLWATER DEEP, STILLWATER BAY, THE MEMORY CHILD, HALFWAY IN BETWEEN, and others totaling twenty four books!

One of Steena’s attributes as a writer, a creator of mysteries that inherently involve secrets form the past and the present, is her management of or attention as she opens a book with a rather startling presence. Cater One is titled ‘avid’ and the following is a magnetic attention grabber – ‘I always knew I was headed for hell; I just never expected it to happen like this. It figures the devil decided not to wait until my cold and broken body was buried beneath mounds of dirt. No, he reached up and gave me what I always knew I deserved. I never expected to live in hell before I was dead. Who am I kidding? I deserve this life, this ending. If living in hell makes up for everything I’ve done throughout the years, then so be it. Even if— and I hate to admit it— even if it means spending my final days in a cold and sterile hospital room. Alone, until the end. This is hell. In all my eighty-odd years, I’ve done enough for God to turn His back on me, to ignore the pitiful prayers I’ve thrown His way. But this . . . this room, this body, this hell . . . it’s too much. My beautiful Gertie promised God loved me too much for this to be my life. My Gertie wasn’t all there toward the end, her mind lost in its endless maze of the life she wished she’d had, so I knew not to place too much stock in her words. I wanted to believe God wasn’t vengeful. That He was loving, caring, and hell, even forgiving— for her. Not for me. I am where I belong. I can gripe and complain all I want, but in the end, this is exactly what I deserve. Scratch that. This is better than what I deserve, and I know it. My hell is furnished with a thin hospital mattress with more lumps than the dirt road behind my house, a ridiculous number of tubes connected to every visible vein in my arms, and the constant beeping from the blasted machines reminding me I am still alive. For now. There is nothing else in my room worth noting. No get-well flowers from family members, no hand-drawn pictures from grandchildren. Nothing but a small television hanging from the ceiling. One with two volumes: whisper soft or thunderous loud.’

In order to grasp the significance of this passage, the plot must be presented: ‘ Elle is a survivor. She’s managed to piece together a solid life from a childhood of broken memories and fairy tales her mom told her to explain away bad dreams. But weekly visits to her mother still fill Elle with a paralyzing fear she can’t explain. It’s just another of so many unanswered questions she grew up with in a family estranged by silence and secrets. Elle’s world turns upside down when she receives a deathbed request from her grandfather, a man she was told had died years ago. Racked by grief, regrets, and a haunted conscience, he has a tale of his own to tell Elle: about her mother, an imaginary friend, and two strangers who came to the house one night and never left. As Elle’s past unfolds, so does the truth—if she can believe it. She must face the reasons for her inexplicable dread. As dark as they are, Elle must listen…before her grandfather’s death buries the family’s secrets forever.’

This is fine writing that deserves all the accolades bestowed on this fine artist. Steena Holmes knows her craft. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, April 18
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. 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.