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Lover of literature and reviewer of books. Happiest where the words are.

10 Jul 2017

Review: The Reminders by Val Emmich

Joan Sully is not your average ten-year-old. She’s gifted with an uncanny ability to remember every detail of her life, from dates to conversations and feelings. However, this immense skill reminds Joan that the memories of others are fallible, and her greatest desire is never to be forgotten, to secure her role in the memories of others as they are cemented in hers. Having a musician for a dad, along with a natural flair for music, Joan decides that the way to do this is to write the winning song for a song-writing contest, ensuring that her name will be featured among the likes of musical greats like the Beatles.

While Joan seeks to enforce memories, Gavin is trying to forget. Lost in turmoil since the death of his partner, Sydney, Gavin tries to escape the memories the pair made together. Visiting his college friends and their gifted daughter, Gavin makes a deal with Joan; her memories of Sydney in exchange for his help with her song. Through this process, he discovers a different set of memories of Sydney, which is both healing and unnerving.

The Reminders is truly heart-warming; a story to be consumed quickly, yet with lingering effects. Emmich does a stellar job of questioning perception and memory, as well as the double-edged sword that is forgetting. He skilfully illustrates the importance of the bonds that hold relationships together, and their elasticity and willingness to accommodate new links. The Reminders gracefully follows an unusual friendship between a man in mourning and a young girl in search of permanence. This is a book with great power; it is inspirational and impossible to put down. Ultimately, Emmich shows the natural progression of life; things change, despite our hesitance to allow this. It is how we react to change that defines us.


The Reminders by Val Emmich is published by Pan Macmillan

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