Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"Everything She Forgot" by Lisa Ballantyne

Everything She Forgot
by Lisa Ballantyne

Everything She Forgot (published as Redemption Road in the UK) is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Some things aren't meant to be remembered ...
They're calling it the worst pileup in London history. Margaret Holloway is driving home, but her mind is elsewhere - on a troubled student, her daughter's acting class, the next day's meeting - when she's rear-ended and trapped in the wreckage. Just as she begins to panic, a disfigured stranger pulls her from the car seconds before it's engulfed in flames. Then he simply disappears.
Though she escapes with minor injuries, Margaret feels that something's wrong. She's having trouble concentrating. Her emotions are running wild. More than that, flashbacks to the crash are also dredging up lost associations from her childhood, fragments of events that had been wiped from her memory. Whatever happened, she didn't merely forget - she chose to forget. And somehow, Margaret knows deep down that it has something to do with the man who saved her life.
As Margaret uncovers a mystery with chilling implications for her family and her very identity, Everything She Forgot winds through a riveting dual narrative and asks the question: How far would you go to hide the truth - from yourself?

Read the first two chapters here.
Read about the author's inspiration for this book here (contains spoilers).
Read a Q&A with the author here (contains spoilers).

Praise for the Book
"Thought-provoking, brave, and challenging." ~ Rosamund Lupton
"A moving and sensitive mystery about childhood trauma and its resolution." ~ Booklist
"Ballantyne’s effortless prose took me across the Atlantic and didn’t let me return until its surprising and satisfying conclusion. A tight story that comes full circle and keeps you reading." ~ Bryan Reardon, author of Finding Jake
"A sweet novel of love, redemption, and loss that chronicles one family's struggle with a difficult past." ~ Kirkus Reviews

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Margaret Holloway nearly dies in a car accident but is rescued by Maxwell Brown, a mysterious man with burn scars, who puts his own life at risk to save her. As a result of the accident, Margaret suffers from PTSD and starts remembering a traumatic event from her childhood. Flashback to 1985, where Big George is seeking to escape the criminal lifestyle imposed on him by his gangland family. He wants to get back with his first love, Kathleen, and their daughter, Moll, but in a bizarre twist of events, he ends up kidnapping Moll instead. When small-time journalist, Angus Campbell, gets wind of this story, a chase ensues as he sets out to solve the mystery of Molly's abduction and get noticed by the big newspapers.
The story is told from the multiple viewpoints of the people involved. In the past: kidnapper George; Moll's mother, Kathleen; Angus, the reporter; and George's friend, Tam. In the present, school teacher Margaret tells her story as she struggles to remember what happened to her as a child and why she is drawn to the mysterious Maxwell. The different viewpoints stimulate interest and allow the author to tell the story from a variety of angles. Further flashbacks interspersed in George's story help explain why he is who he is and help the reader identify with, and even sympathize with, him. The author skillfully manipulates our feelings for two completely opposite men; we are drawn to George, the supposed villain who makes bad choices for all the right reasons, and we feel revulsion for Angus, a supposedly good man who beats his wife and lets his beloved cow suffer because he will not work on the Sabbath.
The book covers a range of confronting topics, such as PTSD, child abduction, adult illiteracy, nature versus nurture, and redemption. We are left to ponder that bad things happen for a reason. While tragic, what happened to Margaret as a child shapes her into the woman she becomes, a teacher with a special leaning toward illiterate teenagers. As for George, we hope he finally found his peace.
More a personal account of Margaret's and George's journeys than a suspense thriller, this is nevertheless a deeply satisfying read.

About the Author
Lisa Ballantyne was born in Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland and studied English Literature at University of St Andrews. She lived and worked in China for many years and started writing seriously while she was there.
Before being published, Lisa was short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize. Her debut novel, The Guilty One, was translated into over 25 languages, long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. The Guilty One was also the Autumn 2012 Richard and Judy Book-club Winner.
She lives in Glasgow.