Remind Me Again What Happened by Joanna Luloff
Algonquin Books: 6/26/18
eBook review copy; 288 pages
Remind Me Again What Happened by Joanna Luloff is a recommended debut novel about friendship and memories.
Would you choose the same lover and friend if you lost all of your past shared memories with them?
Claire is a journalist who has awakened in a hospital room in Florida.
She has no memory of who she is and how she got there. Apparently she
was bitten by a mosquito and contracted Japanese encephalitis while on
an assignment overseas in India. She was lucky enough to survive, but
part of the unlucky group of survivors who have lasting damage to their
nervous systems. She suffers from seizures and a complete loss of
memory. Her husband, Charlie, and best friend, Rachel, have flown in and
brought photos, letters, and memories to help her.
Once she is able to leave the hospital, she moves back to the house in
Vermont with Charlie. Here Rachel and Charlie go through boxes of her
things trying to help her remember who she is and her relationship to
both of them. Claire, Charlie, and Rachel all shared a house years ago
when they were in grad school. They have a long documented relationship
with each other. So why does Claire have an uneasy feeling that the
whole story isn't being told and that there are secret resentments being
unsaid? A picture emerges that she is an independent and fearless
woman, who travels overseas and does whatever it takes to get her story
The novel unfolds through the alternating points-of-view and stories of
the three main characters. With Claire's memory gone, do the three have
any reason to continue a relationship with each other? Claire was
distancing herself from Charlie before her illness. Rachel ruminates
that it was Claire who led the continuing friendship between the three.
While most long-term relationships require much forgiveness and
forgetting of flaws, the myriad of details about each character's life
make it clear that Charlie and Rachel haven't forgotten or forgiven past
grievances and they are full of resentment. They aren't confronting
Claire, but she senses it. Will Charlie and Rachel be able to help them
all find a way to continue their relationship without any input from
Basically the novel is well-written and the characters are all developed
as individuals. For a rather short novel, however, it felt a bit
longer because it is bogged down by all the backstory of the
relationship between the three and you really begin to wonder why they
remained friends. You may also find yourself secretly encouraging
Charlie and Rachel to be honest and tell Claire the truth and help her
truly remember her life.
My review copy was courtesy of Algonquin Books.