Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston

remember-me-like-thisI don’t normally read novels about missing children. As a mother, it is territory I don’t want to visit. But there was something about Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston that made me want to pick it up. Maybe it was because most of the book has to do with life after the missing boy returns home. Whatever it was, Remember Me Like This is a compelling and page turning read that delves into ever shifting family dynamics.

After four long years Justin, now a teenager, is returned to his family. They had never given up hope and it paid off as someone at a flea market recognized his picture. Remember Me Like This focuses, to a great extent, on what it is like for the family to become whole again. His parents and younger brother Griff, all blame themselves for what happened.

One thing I really enjoyed about the novel is that is was about the whole family. In fact, Justin probably plays the most minor role of all of them in the story. We do not hear exactly what happened to him in his captivity (a relief after having read An Untamed State) and we gain very little insight into what he is feeling. But we do gain tremendous insight into what it is like for the rest of the family. And these characters are superbly wrought.

Who would like this book? I think this book has very wide appeal. Johnston is a skilled writer and it was a pleasure to read. Though dealing with a terrible crisis, it does not move into the melodrama territory carved out by writers like Jodi Picoult. In fact, the way in which the family dynamics were explored reminded me a little of The Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin (review). The evocation of place was also really strong in Remember Me Like This, which is set in Corpus Christi, Texas. Overall, it was a really good read, great for summer.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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  2. I keep seeing reviews of this, but I’m like you in that I really don’t want to read about kidnapped children! If I see more reviews like yours though, I might have to make an exception, especially if it avoids melodrama.

  3. I do love stories with family dynamics and struggles and the post trauma perspective of this novel intrigues me (though glad it is not the melodramatic type as you mentioned). Reading God of Small Things now which has a lot of complex family dynamics, though no missing kids.

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