How We Remember

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Pub Date 01 Sep 2019 | Archive Date 15 Feb 2019
RedDoor Publishing, RedDoor Press

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When Jo returns  home  after  her  mother’s  death,  she  is  shocked  to  learn  of  an  unexpected  inheritance, and  her  mother’s  diary.  Jo  thought  she  could  put  to  rest  her  darker  past  until  an  entry  implies  the  messy  aftermath  of  an  uncle’s  sexual  advances  towards  her  when  she  was  fifteen.  Like  the  diary,  Jo’s  memory  of  events  is  full  of  gaps,  but  one  thing  is  certain, she  will  never  regain  what  was  lost.  What  is  the  full  story  of  what  happened  between  Jo  and  her  uncle?  And  what  is  the  diary  not  telling  us  about Jo’s  mother’s  troubles  with  him?

How  We  Remember traces  the  effects  of  alcoholism,  mental  illness  and  abuse  on  one  Irish-Italian-American,  working-class  family.  As  Jo’s  first person  narrative  weaves  together  past  and  present  stories,  she  creates  a  portrait  of  her  family’s  life  and  her  own  as  she  faces  new  decisions  amidst  the  tragic  consequences of  mismanaged  grief.  

Full  of  moments  of  light  and  dark,  Monaco’s  debut  novel – set  during  a  week  that  anyone  would  dread  – provides  a  mesmeric  narrative  portraying  the  pain  of  grief,  the  tenuous  nature  of  memory  and  the  earth  shattering  effect  that  the  death  of  the  ‘glue’  of  a  family  can  cause.  

When Jo returns home after her mother’s death, she is shocked to learn of an unexpected inheritance, and her mother’s diary. Jo thought she could put to rest her...

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ISBN 9781910453629
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Featured Reviews

My review is written with thanks to Anna at Red Door Publishing for inviting me on the tour and for my copy of the book.
When Jo's mother passes away following an illness, she returns to her home in America to spend time with her family. As she is sorting through her mother's possessions, Jo learns that she has inherited a significant sum of money and also finds her mother's diary. The diary reminds Jo of events from her past where exact details are unclear. As Jo is forced to confront what happened, will she be able to fill in the gaps?
As I am going through a family bereavement myself at the moment, How We Remember struck a chord with me. I loved how Monaco manages to capture the emotions that Jo experiences at every stage of the novel: her grief, her sadness, her anger and her happiness. These feelings are so vividly described that I felt everything as though it were real to me and I appreciated the opportunity to follow Jo on her journey.
Through the issues that are present in. Jo's family, Monaco is able to explore a range of subjects including sexual abuse, drug abuse, mental illness and physical illness. This helped me to relate to the characters, as many of the issues were relevant to me, even if only in part. At times, it felt as though Monaco may have tried to include too many different themes, but it is likely that the themes will resonate with a large number of readers.

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How we remember by JM Monaco made for a good read.

A thrilling suspense story it isn’t. Nor is it a romance or a fast paced telling of wonderful adventures.

It is however, a story of a life. A family. A girl, now a middle aged woman forced to relive her memories.

A brother and a sister and imperfect parents who try their best in their own way.

The ending is soft and not completely unexpected.

The rhythm is decent, holding its own through JoJo’s reminiscing.

I particularly liked the Brian chapter/episode and her service to the wider female sisterhood by teaching him where to find the spot.

As somebody who’s relocated for university and choosing to live there after, a lot of her musings and experiences have resonated with me.

4 stars. It made me think about my own relocation and its challenges, as well as the parents I left behind in a different country.

How we remember treats several interesting subjects quite aptly such as sense of belonging, childhood drama, family bonds and parent- children relationship.

Like I said, an enjoyable read.

Thank you NetGalley and RedDoor for the free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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