Remind Me Again What Happened
Claire wakes in a hospital room in the Florida Keys. She has no idea how she got there or why. The loss of so many memories is paralyzing. Some things she can piece together by looking at old photos saved by her husband, Charlie, and her best friend, Rachel, and by combing through boxes of letters and casual jottings. But she senses a mystery at the center of all these fragments of her past, a feeling that something is not complete. Is Charlie still her husband? Is Rachel still her friend?
Told from alternating points of view that pull the reader into the minds of the three characters, the story unfolds as the smudge that covers Claire’s memory is gradually, steadily wiped away, until finally she can understand the why and the how of her life. And then maybe she and Charlie and Rachel can move forward, but with their lives forever changed.
In Remind Me Again What Happened, debut novelist Joanna Luloff has written a moving and beautifully nuanced story of transience, the ebb and flow of time, and how relationships shift and are reconfigured by each day, hour, and minute.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: June 26th 2018 by Algonquin Books
Prepare yourself to reach deep and immerse yourself in the thoughts of three different characters that polarize around an event that is touching all of their lives in different ways.
Claire is a young, successful, independent journalist who wakes up one day in a hospital in Florida, attached to machines and different apparatuses. She is alone. She is confused.
“Before all of this doctor’s sleuthing work, before my induced coma, before all my bumps and bruises, I had been in a hotel overlooking the sea”
Claire’s last assignment was to Tamil Nadu, India. This is the place where she contracted Japanese encephalitis. It is transmitted to people through a bite by an infected mosquito. The virus and all those subsequent seizures damaged her temporal lobes and now she has lost her memories. This created a “black hole” of things she can’t remember between the ages of seventeen to thirty-four. That is a vast of unknowns for her.
“You can sense the many things that surround what you are looking at, but the closer you get to the thing itself, the blinder you become”
Charlie is her husband. He isn’t there immediately when Claire wakes up from her coma. As a matter of fact, he is not even always sure of her assignments, since Claire has opted to live in an apartment from time to time by herself, and their relationship is one of long distance and slightly estranged. He is the loyal and grounded one in the relationship, and she is a globe-trotter.
“Every time I look at her now, multiple images appear: the Claire in front of me, the Claire I fell in love with, and the Claire struggling against her mind and body in the hospital. Out of the three Claires, there may be only one I am still in love with, and I fear that the one in front of me is not a match. And of course I loathe myself for each and every one of these thoughts.”
Charlie takes care of Claire. He takes her to her appointments and therapies. Continues to work and gives her plenty of rest. But an underlying disconnect keeps surfacing.
“Our chats were polite and quick, and then we slipped back into our won, separate lives.”
“More than anything, I want her to really remember me, to encounter me with a look of real familiarity and recognition, and perhaps even regret, and maybe then I will be able to approach her again and call her to me. My Claire.”
Rachel is their best friend. She volunteers her time to help them out and do the household chores. She has different relationships with each of them alone, but a common ground from their pasts keeps them bonded and connected. Rachel shares her time and lends her ear to either of her friends.
“I have never told him about the many times Claire came to visit me without him. Nor about the confessions she has made to me only after I promise not to reveal them, usually after we have finished a bottle of wine out on my parents’ back porch.”
“I have to admit, her drifting filled me with a tangle of emotions I’d rather not admit: jealousy, smug satisfaction, anger. She was providing me with a passive revenge, which, if I can be honest with myself, is the only kind of revenge I’m probably capable of.”
Their deep friendship and individual histories with secrets is explored in 3 different voices and viewpoints.
“This is our present tug-of-war; the line in the sand is our shared past and each of us wants to tug the other across to see it our way.”
But is Claire’s memory loss the real culprit for their struggles? Or is there more? What secrets do they know of each other and hold back?
This novel was written with intent. Each sentence conveyed a powerful message for thought. It is nice when you read a book that makes you think and turn the words, come to find out, it could not have been written any more concise. Albeit the many emotions explored, it isn’t sappy. It was written well, from a learned and experienced perspective. A tantalizing journey of the heart and mind, I highly recommend.
I received a digital copy of 'Remind Me Again What Happened' from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you.