Wednesday, February 10, 2016

REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS by Bret Anthony Johnston

This novel opens with the discovery of a body.  Is it that of Justin Campbell, who disappeared 4 years ago at 11 years old?  No, because a flea market vendor recognizes Justin from numerous flyers papering the town.  He returns home to his parents, Eric and Laura, and younger brother Griff, and his abductor is arrested.  The family handles Justin with kid gloves, never delving into his life as a captive, as they begin to dig out of their grief-stricken lives.  They are all more than a little apprehensive certainly about what unspeakable torture Justin may have suffered but experience even more anxiety about whether he might want to return to that life.  Justin’s therapist has warned the family members about Stockholm syndrome and that prying may do more harm than good.  Griff, however, as Justin’s only real sounding board, besides his therapist, gleans a little more info than his parents do.  Also, Griff has harbored a secret burden of guilt since Justin’s disappearance, because an argument kept him from accompanying Justin on that fateful day 4 years ago.  The giddy euphoria of Justin’s return is short-lived for the family, as developments in the criminal case bring on a new cloud of foreboding and the sense that things may be too good to be true.  I really liked this book, and I would have loved it if some activities near the end hadn’t seemed a little out of character and not quite up to the level of the first ¾ of the novel.  I also would have appreciated a little more insight into the actions of Dwight Buford, the abductor, but perhaps the author didn’t feel he could really get into the head of such a character.  Or perhaps the author didn’t want to sully this story of family mending with too much unspeakable evil.  Overall, the novel was gripping without being overly sentimental.

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