Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Remember Me Like This -- Book Review

For four years Eric and Laura Campbell and their son Griffin have held on to hope that they would one day find their son and brother Justin who disappeared one night at the age of 11. They searched. They offered rewards. They tried to motivate local and national news stations to help. Many people in their small community near Corpus Christi aided in the search. As time went on, they never gave up but they started to fall apart and become distant with each other. Their family began to disintegrate. Then, one afternoon they received the call they had prayed to get--their son had been recognized at the flea market. A man was arrested and Justin was coming home.

Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston tells the story after Justin is found. In poignant, beautiful and sometimes painful prose, he details the process of putting a broken family back together. Though grown and nearly a man, Justin is fragile after his years held captive and away from his family. Eric and Laura experience a myriad of emotions from awe to anger as they reconnect with their returned son. They must tread carefully but also evaluate their own lives and reassess the direction they had been heading. Griffin will find where he fits in the new family balance.

They will each do what they feel they must to keep their restored family safe.

A relevant and meaningful tale, Remember Me Like This picks up where most of us turn off the news with a sigh of relief--he's home, he's safe now. Delving deeper into the recovery and healing process, Johnston details the feelings of elation, guilt, doubt and nearly overwhelming anger that the victims and their loved ones experience all while telling a compelling story. The characters are flawed but could be anyone--your neighbor, friend, teacher. They're absolutely human, which gives strength and credibility to the story.

Now and then, the story languishes in dreariness. While it was hard to read through, I think Johnston was attempting to show the slowness of the healing process. It's not always an easy read but I found it enlightening to be reminded that the suffering and pain doesn't always end for the victim as soon as they are found--that the happy ending takes time.

Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston was published by Random House in May 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of Remember Me Like This. All opinions are my own.**

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