Title: Remember Me
Author: Charity Norman
Published: March 1st 2022
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 stars
They never found Leah Parata. Not a boot, not a backpack, not a turquoise beanie. After she left me that day, she vanished off the face of the earth.
A close-knit community is ripped apart by disturbing revelations that cast new light on a young woman’s disappearance twenty-five years ago.
After years of living overseas, Emily Kirkland returns to New Zealand to care for her father, Felix, who suffers from dementia. As his memory fades and his guard slips, she begins to understand him for the first time – and to glimpse shattering truths about his past. Truths she’d rather were kept buried.
A heartfelt, page-turning suspense novel from the bestselling author of The Secrets of Strangers – ideal reading-group fiction, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty.
With a heartbreaking narrative that echoes the work of affective writer Lisa Genova, Remember Me is a moving story that covers the emotions surrounding ageing and degenerative illness. Powerful, intense, conflicting and deeply atmospheric, Remember Me is an extraordinary tale that I rate very highly.
A suspenseful mystery unfolds in Remember Me, the latest release from New Zealand based author Charity Norman. When a local woman named Leah Parata goes missing one day, it sends shockwaves through her home town. Leah is unable to be located and despite the passage of time, the local community have not forgotten this tragedy. When Leah’s former neighbour Emily returns home after making a new life for herself overseas, Leah’s disappearance comes back to haunt her. As Emily tries to care of her failing father Felix, she is also moved by a series of revelations that link back to Leah’s disappearance over two decades ago. As Emily tries to make sense of her father’s ramblings, a shocking truth begins to emerge. Will the past finally be unveiled and what will the consequences be for this father and daughter?
Charity Norman’s seventh novel doesn’t fall short in any shape or form. I greatly respect and value this author’s work and writing style, so I was very much looking forward to this one. I did have to ensure I was in the right mood and frame of mind for Remember Me. This novel does feature some difficult to swallow content around illness and ageing. I’m glad I waited to read this novel at a time where I had a relatively clear head.
Remember Me is a psychological based fiction novel, as much as it is a suspense crime mystery novel. I think family relationships, rifts, communication, personal conflicts, responsibility, stress, strain, care, mental health, personal wellbeing and independence all have a strong part to play in this moral thriller. Norman balances the truth to the direct impact of an ageing disease and another degrative illness within a community mystery novel. I liked how Norman presented the facts with emotion and sensitivity. It can be a fine line to walk with a story of this nature, but Norman is a considerate storyteller.
Setting wise, this story all plays out under the magnificent and breathtaking backdrop of New Zealand’s stunning blue skies, clear streams, valleys and mountains. I am not someone who has tried hiking before, but after reading Remember Me I have a strong inclination to add a NZ hiking trip to my travel bucket list. Norman does an amazing job with articulating her location base. I could smell the fresh and pure air, I basked in the glory of the native bushland region, I imagined the crystal-clear streams and I could hear the local wildlife that surrounds this evocative setting. It certainly illuminated the stirring atmosphere of this intriguing mystery novel.
Norman’s characterisation is solid and I found a lasting connection to lead character Emily, her father Felix and the other side protagonists of this tale. The ups and downs of parental relationships, along with exhausting care of an ageing parent are all covered extremely well within Remember Me. Leah Parata, the figure who is at the centre of the overall mystery element, was presented with authenticity and credibility. I appreciated Norman’s dips in and out of the present back to the past, as it extended the storyline arcs of the core character set. I didn’t see the final moments of this story coming, though I do admit feeling a sense of dread that something inevitability tragic would happen by the close of Remember Me.
Magnetic, mysterious, thought provoking and stirring, Remember Me is a distinctive novel that speaks volumes about the way we deal with family emotions, ageing and degenerative illness.
Remember Me by Charity Norman was published on 1st March 2022 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Remember Me, Charity Norman, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.