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Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony…

Remember Me Like This (2014)

by Bret Anthony Johnston

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2424247,619 (3.78)15



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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Fast read and a bit of a page turner--which is somewhat surprising, given that the victim kidnapped in the book is recovered rapidly. Does a great job of illustrating how the loss of a family member under terrible circumstances sends shock waves throughout a family. ( )
  Gary10 | May 1, 2016 |
Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston is a highly recommended novel about a family in crisis.

Justin Campbell disappeared 4 years ago at age 11 in southern Texas. Since that time the Campbell family (parents Eric and Laura, grandfather Cecil, and younger brother Griffin) has been coasting, and slowly disintegrating under their stress and grief. They have become alienated from each other and themselves. Eric has been lying about his actions and having an affair. Laura has been working at a dry cleaners and putting in many hours volunteering at a local aquarium and tending a sick dolphin. Griffin is now 14 with his first girlfriend.

Everyone knew what they had endured, and what they had lost. "More and more Eric had the sorry sense that he and Laura were both just treading water, trying to stay afloat until Griff graduated high school. A good husband. A good father. He only knew he’d filled those roles at one time, though he could hardly recall it now." (Location 250)
Cecil is more taciturn about his emotions "This was another thing he’d learned over the years: Sometimes a man’s obligation was to tell his family what he knew of life, but more often his duty was to keep it to himself." (Location 479)

Then, miraculously, Justin is found in nearby Corpus Christi. The family must rally together to help him recover, but this requires that they confront their own issues. By all outward appearances Justin seems fine and doesn't talk about his four year ordeal but he is clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Clearly, the family’s development is arrested, too. Meanwhile his abductor, Dwight Harrell, is charged and released on bond, which sends the individuals in the family into a tail spin.

This is a capable and well-crafted debut novel by Johnston. He explores the themes of family bonds and guilt in a family that must either rebuild their lives and connections or find a new way to live in their fractured current state of existence. He allows much of the inner turmoil of some of the family members to boil and bubble over as they contemplate their next moves.

While I enjoyed Remember Me Like This quite a bit, I had a few problems with it. Opening with Eric's affair was an immediate turn-off for me. I comprehend the implications of his actions, but it didn't need to be thrust to the forefront of the beginning of the novel. Then, after Justin comes home it seemed like there was just endless inner dialogue going on. I guess I was expecting more outward sharing and more exposure of the events that happened and how Justin could be healed along with the family.

If you like slow moving family dramas with lots of emotional inner contemplation/monologues from family members then this is a good choice for you. It's well written which should help your enjoyment enormously.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House for review purposes.

( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Just finished this book this morning. I couldn't put it down. Justin Campbell disappeared at age 11 and has been gone for 4 years. Then he's found. The story is about how this whole situation effects his family and the whole town. Written from multiple POV, you feel the anguish of each of the main characters except for that of Justin. The book opens up with a scene that you cannot get out of your head as you read the book. It made me want to put the book down because I just didn't want to get to that part ever. However, impossible to do that so I just kept reading. That's all I can say without spoiling the story but this is a book you don't want to miss. Highly recommended! ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Jan 28, 2016 |
Four years have passed since the disappearance of eleven year old Justin Campbell. His parents, Eric and Laura, and his younger brother, Griff, have never stopped hoping he was alive. Their life has been in limbo ever since; his room is a shrine filled with the Christmas and birthday presents he missed. His mother even buys new clothes for him in the appropriate sizes so when he returns it will be like he's never been gone. Then, unexpectedly, Justin is found alive, living with a man a few miles away. He returns home and this seems like the start of the happy ending right at the beginning of the book. The author then tells us the story of the next few months from several perspectives, but never Justin's. The gaps in our knowledge about Justin's mindset generate a lot of tension as we observe how his parents and others adapt to his reappearance.

The author never depicts the events of the abduction or what happened to Justin but we get some clues throughout the book. I was just fine with this since I believe I already know more than I care to about child abduction from numerous other books as well as countless episodes of Criminal Minds.

This isn't a typical psychological thriller about the apprehension and/or prosecution of a criminal. I thought it was a tremendously gripping and complex portrayal of a family struggling to put their life back together again after horrific events. I thought the characters were vulnerable and flawed and the story was beautifully written in a way that kept you from putting it down until you reached the end. I believe this is the author's first novel, aside from a collection of short stories. I'll definitely be looking forward to his next work. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
OK story but didn't hook me, really had to work to finish it. Had some interesting spots but there was just too much going on yet I didn't care much about most of it. ( )
  eenerd | Sep 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
There is one word that sums up this book for me; overwrought. The author knows his craft and can turn out good prose. The problem is that he does so about the same thing over and over again. Every emotion, every thought is described at length. It got to the point where I read the dialogue and about the first two sentences of each paragraph and skipped the rest because that was the only way I could get through this.

I am familiar with this kind of writing because I attended the U of Iowa and I took classes with a lot of the Workshop writers. I read a story that got a writer into the Workshop (no easy feat). It was a 23-page story about two minutes in someone's life. Reading it was like watching a soap opera. Or watching paint dry. This book reminded me of that. For me, it's about the suspension of disbelief. I live in a book while I am reading it and I can't do that when I am annoyed and distracted by a writer's attempt to make every sentence a present wrapped up in a pretty bow at the expense of the story.

As I said, the author knows how to turn out a nice phrase. I even like his characters and the story is good. But he beats the reader into submission with the sheer volume of expostulation. I really wanted to like this book, but I absolutely did not.
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Well, when one has no one, nowhere else one can go.
- - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
I've lain with the devil
Cursed God above
Forsaken heaven
To bring you my love
- - PJ Harvey, "To Bring You My Love"
For Jay Anthony and Donna Leah Johnston. I remember.
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The harbor bridge crossed over the Port of Corpus Christi.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Four years have passed since Justin Campbell's disappearance, a tragedy that rocked the small town of Southport, Texas. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown in the bay? As the Campbells search for answers, they struggle to hold what's left of their family together. Then one afternoon, the impossible happens. The police call to report that Justin has been found only miles away in a nearby town, and most important, he appears to be fine. And though the reunion is a miracle, Justin's homecoming exposes the deep rifts that have diminished his family, the wounds they all carry that may never fully heal. Trying to return to normal, his parents do their best to ease Justin back into his old life. But as thick summer heat takes hold, violent storms churn in the Gulf and in the Campbells' hearts. When a reversal of fortune lays bare the family's greatest fears - and offers perhaps their only hope for recovery - each of them must fight to keep the ties that bind them from permanently tearing apart. A gripping novel with the pace of a thriller but told with the deep empathy of literature, Remember Me Like This introduces Bret Anthony Johnston as a gifted storyteller. With his sophisticated and emotionally taut plot Johnston reveals how only in caring for each other, can we save ourselves.… (more)

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