How We Remember
by J. M. Monaco
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Pub Date 01 Sep 2019 | Archive Date 15 Feb 2019
RedDoor Publishing, RedDoor Press
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.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 22 members
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.
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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