“Enthralling . . . [an] exquisitely moral mystery of how we struggle to accept and love the people we call family.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Esquire • BookPage
A gripping novel with the pace of a thriller but the nuanced characterization and deep empathy of some of the literary canon’s most beloved novels, Remember Me Like This introduces Bret Anthony Johnston as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today. With his sophisticated and emotionally taut plot and his shimmering prose, Johnston reveals that only in caring for one another can we save ourselves.
Four years have passed since Justin Campbell’s disappearance, a tragedy that rocked the small town of Southport, Texas. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown in the bay? As the Campbells search for answers, they struggle to hold what’s left of their family together.
Then, one afternoon, the impossible happens. The police call to report that Justin has been found only miles away, in the neighboring town, and, most important, he appears to be fine. Though the reunion is a miracle, Justin’s homecoming exposes the deep rifts that have diminished his family, the wounds they all carry that may never fully heal. Trying to return to normal, his parents do their best to ease Justin back into his old life. But as thick summer heat takes hold, violent storms churn in the Gulf and in the Campbells’ hearts. When a reversal of fortune lays bare the family’s greatest fears—and offers perhaps the only hope for recovery—each of them must fight to keep the ties that bind them from permanently tearing apart.
Praise for Remember Me Like This
“An achingly beautiful and psychologically insightful portrait of a family . . . [a] fully immersive novel in which the language is luminous and the delivery almost flawless.”—The Boston Globe
“Riveting . . . flows like it was plotted by Dennis Lehane but feels like it was written by Jonathan Franzen.”—Esquire
“Tremendously moving . . . There’s real humanity in Johnston’s writing, and it’s heartening to spend time with these folks as they relearn how to be a family.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Deeply empathetic and masterfully constructed . . . a novel that has both the feel of a great epic and the focused intensity of standing on a highwire.”—Salon
In Johnston's strong debut, it's been four years since young son Justin disappeared, and during that time the Campbell family in southern Texas has been slowly crumbling under the strain of their grief. But when Justin, now a teenager, is miraculously returned and his abductor set to stand trial for his crimes, the entire family must join together and help him recover the years he has lost. His mother, Laura, who volunteers at a local aquarium studying dolphins, confronts her own sense of guilt and tries to regain her former lust for life. Her husband, Eric, who has found comfort in the arms of another woman, struggles to speak to his son while he plots revenge on the abductor. And Justin's younger brother, Griffin, is just trying to be a normal teen, more concerned with deciphering the signals of his tough-talking girlfriend, Fiona, than confronting psychic scars. As the police investigate the kidnapping and Justin's captor is released before the trial, the tension rises. From the travails of sudden celebrity to the knowledge that the kidnapper is free nearby, the family is tormented. The novel offers a melodrama that tries to sympathetically portray the devastating effects of loss on a family, even (or especially) when the lost are found. Johnston has a talent for drawing well-rounded characters, although verbal excess weighs down the novel's pace. In the end, this is a convincing and uplifting portrait of a family in crisis.
Good read, but I felt like I was reading a familiar story stolen from the headlines of the abduction of Shawn Hornbeck in 2002 when he was 11 yrs old. The stories are so similar I am unsure how this can be called an original fiction.
I really loved this book…it is beautifully written, painfully reall, and joyously, gloriously, human. The overwhelming sense of both hope and despair is jarring, with hope, in my opinion, winning in the end…
As for the previous review, so many books of fiction do parallel real life stories, just as they are also often very autobiographical. Wasn’t an issue for me. The craftsmanship in the writing was wonderful, and the narration was spot on...