What if you once had a painful memory removed? And what if you were offered the chance to get it back?
Tell Me an Ending follows four characters grappling with the question of what to remember—and what they hoped to forget forever.
Finn, an Irish architect living in the Arizona desert, begins to suspect his charming wife of having an affair. Mei, a troubled grad school drop-out in Kuala Lumpur, wonders why she remembers a city she’s never visited. William, a former police inspector in England, struggles with PTSD, the breakdown of his marriage, and his own secret family history. Oscar, a handsome young man with almost no memories at all, travels the world in a constant state of fear.
Into these characters lives comes Noor, an emotionally closed-off psychologist at the memory removal clinic in London, who begins to suspect her glamorous boss Louise of serious wrongdoing.
Clever and propulsive, Tell Me an Ending is a speculative novel exploring what the world would be like if we were able to wipe away our worst moments. In this polyphonic tale, author Jo Harkin raises provocative questions about the nature of memory, through characters who confront new knowledge about themselves and a need for answers, meaning, connection, and story.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 39 members
Tell Me an Ending is a book written from the viewpoints of people who have had a “memory deletion” or the removal of something that happened to them that was traumatic and life-changing, or maybe not. The fictional company called Nepenthe has the ability to take people’s pain away by removing events from memory. The book is an effort at discovery of the topic of what gives us our personalities? Do we need to remember the bad things that happen? Sometimes what is bad to one person may be tolerable to another. What happens when people administering the “antidote” to a bad memory may not have the best intentions? At first, I was slightly confused by the many characters, but a little into the book, all became clear and it made sense. It is about how we all may have different endings to our stories based on how our characters are formed. Is that a good or bad thing? The point is made by the different stories. The characters reactions and the behavior of people who have the power to change lives are all too human. It is a thought provoking read.
Black Mirror meets Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind gives you interesting, complex, thought provoking plot concept! What if there is a chance to get rid of your entire traumatic memories that give you setbacks, unendurable pain, preventing you to move on: will you accept those memories’ erasing process? Or you keep them by embracing your pain and roughing up to endure more challenges life throws at you! First of all: some people have higher pain tolerance. The same incidents they get involved may create different effects on each of them because there are so many different perspectives, reactions. As some of the people look at the same event from rational side as the other can look at more emotional side. Nobody is the same! Minds, hearts, souls may perceive things from different angles! Philosophical side if this book made me intrigued a lot but crowded characters’ back stories were a little confusing to catch! Eventually I returned back several times and reread some chapters to solve this problem. Mei, Finn, Oscar,William are the characters who had the deleting procedure and Noor is the psychologist who has been working for Nepenthe the company where the memory erasing procedures have been taking place since 90’s. I have hard time to connect most of the characters but the triggering subjects they’re dealing with which force them to erase their some main parts of their life stories were well developed. Oscar was the most relatable character and truly my favorite. Overall: it was a little compelling read with so many POVs and back character stories but the author wrapped up the ending so adroitly which made me give this book extra half star and I rounded up 3.5 stars to 4 sci-fi, pain, life choices, mistakes, resentments stars! It was truly unique reading journey! But you have to clear my mind to focus on entire stories to enjoy it fully. Special thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
This isn't the first piece of media to explore the idea of how having memories taken away would affect a person (the book itself even references Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with one character complaining about how unrealistic the film is), but that doesn't stop it from being an effective one. It centers around a company that boasts its ability to remove specific memories from people's minds, and it tells its story through a lattice of different characters, varying in connection to each other, with different relationships to the company and the technology. When a novel establishes this kind of network of characters, it's sort of signaling from the get-go that their connections with each other are going to deepen (or, if the connection isn't clear yet, it'll occur at some point). It's a pleasing structure, but sometimes superficially so. I think that's something this novel grapples with a bit, but doesn't succumb to completely. The characters are all fairly interesting and well-developed, but it's an inevitable consequence of this structure that the reader wants to know more about somebody, who was left not as well developed in favor of a different story or character. The science fiction elements are done quite well, with the pseudoscientific rules of how everything works seeming logical and consistent. I don't think it's necessarily the responsibility of a science fiction novel to explain these things, but when it does, it's nice for it to make some sort of sense. I like the narrative style, as well, and the way thoughts are presented. It's interesting for memories to be presented in a way almost identical to the present, except often without quotation marks for dialogue. It gives the impression of the memory being experienced then and there, rather than the narrator unearthing it for the purpose of the story. An intriguing, emotional, and thematically dense novel.
How do you cope when you have experienced a terrible incident that consumes your life? In this book’s title I see a plea for closure from someone stuck, not in control, and perhaps disconnected. And this book does contain the stories of people who are stuck, not in control, disconnected, and dealing (or not dealing) with life-consuming problems in their lives and how a professionally administered drug can block bad memories. I remember being astounded reading news about propranolol being a panacea for those with PTSD, so I am definitely interested in this novel. The narrative unwinds in linear fashion, giving a quick, and sorry to say, unflatteringly transparent peek into the life of several different characters: A callous scientist, an insecure college girl, a police officer with PTSD, a jealous husband, and a young man with no memory at all—who has been reduced to terror and paranoia. This book is about these people whose lives seem on hold, uncomfortable in their own skin, unable to fit comfortably with others, trapped in situations with no way out. Seeing all of the unique situations reminded me of a quote from Tolstoy: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Then we get a second peek into each of their lives. These interrupted, completely different, stories make it frustrating to get to know them fully, and it shows how frustrating it is to not have the whole story. I have to admit at the beginning I was annoyed, not emotionally engaged, and thought about quitting the book about a bunch of whiners. It was only the still-tenuous trust in the author that kept me going. I recognized the author’s characters are required as is, and placed my trust in her hands. By the third peek into their lives, it creates suspense as our empathy for the characters grows. These fragmented peeks serve as interruptions—a suspension—until the narrative circles back around again. This is effective storytelling, the frustrating not to get the whole story mirrors how characters feel when they can’t remember the whole story. As interest grows a sense if tragedy grows. The delivery is interesting. Sometimes conversations are set off in quotation marks, sometimes italics, and sometimes they are written in stream of conscious paragraphs. Mostly it serves to speed the story, create empathy for the characters and add pressure, but other times it creates a jarring break from the narrative when you happen to notice inconsistencies in style of dialogue, and it is possible to just put the book down, not feeling highly involved or connected. At the halfway point, the stories tension ratchets up. It’s hard to like the characters, but it becomes easy to empathize with them and their pain. To sincerely hope their personal development leads to a happy ending. As they work through observations that nothing is ever black and white, but shades of grey. To hear their friends and family complaining about them being sad. There is an interesting legitimate plot I haven’t mentioned; they all have had a bad memory wiped. But this novel is more than just “this happened, that happened, and then…” There are sequences—and consequences. If you are interested in anything pertaining to people and memory, this book is for you. This book opens the conversation about what is a fulfilling life. It highlights the frailty of the human condition, the importance of connecting with other people, getting to really know them, and asking philosophical questions. The novel brings up the following issues: Does removing bad memories improve your life? Are you still a whole person when some of your experiences have been erased? What is a fulfilling life? Is it possible to categorize memories as unambiguously good or bad? Is it possible to have friends if you don’t show your undesirable vulnerabilities? Authenticity. What are the moral implications of not knowing your “bad” past actions? What are the ethical considerations of the doctors who perform memory wipes? What are the unintended consequences? If you have wiped your memory, can you ever feel comfortable and feel that you know yourself? Is it even possible to come up with a black and white answers to these questions, and maybe that’s ok to not have a definitive answer or have everything wrapped up nicely? So dear reader, tell me an ending. Or perhaps, ask me a question instead and we can grow from there. Unbiased review of a free ARC from NetGalley.
If you could delete a traumatic memory, would you do it? What if you found out you'd already had a memory delete. Would you want it back? Tell Me An Ending is a story about an alternate present that centers on a group of characters who have undergone memory deletions. A company called Nepenthe preforms procedures to erase memories of both "self-informed" knowing patients, and those who have decided to erase the memory of the procedure as well. After a spat of legal trouble, Nepenthe agrees to offer their past patients a chance to get their deleted memories back. Throughout the story, Tell Me an Ending introduces its readers to a slew of different characters: some considering memory deletion; some who are informed that they already had memories deleted; and some who work for the memory clinic itself. All of them must figure out if their own decisions, past and present, are the right ones. The book tackles trauma, morality, and the idea of the self. What an intriguing concept for a novel! The book dives into each character's personal struggle as they decide whether regaining a memory that's been deleted is the best choice, and how that decision affects not only the patient but those around them. I enjoyed that sometimes we as readers were better informed on the full picture than the characters in the novel, yet somehow, there was still enough mystery and withheld information that the story didn't feel predictable. There was just enough science fiction to allow for some world-building and creative license, but it was centered so well in reality that it's easy to believe something like this could happen in our lifetime. This is a really strong read for contemporary and sci-fi readers alike.
TELL ME AN ENDING is a haunting, thought-provoking novel about memory, technology, loss, and love. I found Jo Harkin’s novel to be incredibly enjoyable- I was hooked within the first few pages- and loved following the set of characters as their paths intertwined, as they reckoned with complex decisions, questions from their pasts, unknowns about their futures Harkin’s writing was sharp and lovely, her characters genuine and compelling; she deftly weaves together the various characters in surprising, interesting ways. I will think about this story and its characters for a long time- a great read and one of my favorites in 2021.. This book would be great for fans of Black Mirror or sci-fi in general. I’d also recommend it for anyone looking for a story told from multiple perspectives that is engrossing and emotional. I hope Harkin writes many more novels- I will be first in line to read them! I kindly received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Tell Me an Ending is a beautiful piece of thrilling, dystopian fiction that also examines the philosophical meanings of self and memory. The story is layered by telling the unique stories of five different characters who lives touch each other's as the meta-narrative follows the path of their lives. Dr. Noor Ali began working for the memory erasure clinic because she wanted to better the world, But as she learns the stories of her patients, she questions how much good has actually been coming out of this clinic. I absolutely adored this book. I could not put it down. I loved that the author slowly unveiled the characters' stories, telling each of the them one by one. There is no way to guess how the lives of the characters will become intertwined. At the heart of the book is a giant mystery about what the clinic has been trying to do. I love a good mystery, and the character development in this book was absolutely on point. I hope this author continues to write. I felt like this book was a masterpiece. She also delved into philosophical and metaphysical topics without bogging the story down. I think it is the sign of a brilliant author who can ask the right questions without disrupting the narrative of the story. One bone to pick with this book. I really wanted to know what memory the Irish man's wife had deleted. There were hints but I really wanted to know, really know, what she had hidden away. It's okay; it was used in the story to convey powerful emotions and life altering love and decisions. But still! I heartily recommend this book! Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.
Wow, what a book! Hard to rate, as I don’t want to give anything away! Not at all what I expected, but found myself glued to the pages! Maybe because it hits home or more likely because of the provocative writing and perfection in character development! Not my normal genre, but so glad I gave it a go! Highly, highly recommend!
A very inventive, provocative story. I found it a bit confusing at first to keep the various characters straight, but it was less difficult to do so as the story went on. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Picture a near future when you are able to delete memories. The process is controversial and mistakes may have been made with the early adapters. What if you had a horrible event that caused pain and suffering that could not be overcome. What if your child suffered PTSD from something they had seen. Would you consider memory deletion. Tell Me an Ending is a novel written from the viewpoints of four different people - some of whom have had a “memory deletion,” some who do not know if they did have a deletion and one who works for the controversial company Nepenthe. The theme of the book is quite interesting - on the face of it is would you rid yourself of a traumatic memory. Deeper is the question of what makes you YOU (are you YOU without the trauma you encountered?) The characters are engaging and there is a suspense to uncovering what memories were deleted and why. This book reads like a thriller, is plotted like a scifi novel and is written like literature. The writing, the story and the characters are amazing and unique. If you like scifi, literature or would like to consider what part of your personality is made up of your memories, this is the book for you! #Scribner #TellMeAnEnding #NetGalley
This was really something. If Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind made you wonder how one would have their memories erased, and the effects that would have on their mental health and wellbeing, this book is for you. I adored it. I couldn't put it down. And despite reading it in mid-December, it may have snuck its way into my top 5 for the year. Tell Me an Ending follows multiple points of view, from a flawed but deeply likeable psychologist who works at Nepenthe, a clinic that performs memory erasures, to characters who have had those erasures. While I tend not to like multiple-POVs, each person in this novel had a distinct voice and I adored everyone represented, flaws and all. Though the build-up is a bit slow, the novel wraps up nicely and answers the most important questions. My only regret is that this book comes out in 2022 and I can't buy copies for everyone for Christmas this year. Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for this advance e-copy!
'Tell Me an Ending' explores how society is changed when a company called Nepenthe commercializes the ability to erase memories. The chapters alternate between multiple characters’ experiences with the futuristic bio-tech company, similar to John Marrs’ 'The One'. The author acknowledges the conceptual similarities to 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', yet 'Tell Me an Ending' takes the premise in a unique and fascinating direction. Although I felt many of the answers to mysteries were revealed prematurely, I thoroughly enjoyed this title and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels. Some storylines are darker than others, but this book ultimately left me with a sense of hope. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an ARC.
This book was fabulous. Reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Definitely recommend, as it ended up being one of my favorite books of December.
I was lucky enough to procure an advance digital copy of TELL ME AN ENDING by Jo Harkin through a Shelf Awareness giveaway/from the publisher. Thanks for the early look, and have a safe and happy holiday season!
This is a very though=provoking book written by Jo Harkin. A tech company that removes unwanted memories, It was believed that these memories were permanently erased but clients are starting to remember traces. This of course becomes a legal issue and the company must offer to revive the erased memories. We meet an emotional distance psychologist Noor who works for the company, Nepenthe and through her thoughts and memories along with four clients, we feel their struggle to decide whether or not they want to gain back their wiped memories, This story got me thinking about the family and friends in your life that share your memory so is your memory truly wiped? Very interesting read. Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for the opportunity to read this ARC in return for an honest review.
I went into Tell Me an Ending not really sure what to expect. There were times in the beginning when I struggled to stay with the different stories, the different characters. Each one was done so well, so differently, and eventually they all hooked me in. Especially Noor, in the middle of all of it. The book raises interesting questions about memories, the nature of them, what their loss can take from you in other ways and what regaining them can do to you. I'm no brain expert and the science scanned well for me, and I liked the explanation of how they keep from accidentally taking the wrong ones. It made me think, a lot, about, "What would I want to lose?" Ultimately, though, it's nothing. I wouldn't part with any of mine, even and especially the painful ones. I was granted an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I would recommend this one. It opened doors to thoughts I wouldn't have otherwise had, is quite well written, and the characters are engaging.
“Be careful what you wish for…” is an apt description of this book. It really gets you thinking about what makes a person ‘whole’. Kudos to the author making the reader think. The book bogged down a bit in the midddle, but once all the threads came together it was worth it. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
Tell me an Ending often hits very close to home. What is a memory? What about your memory makes you who you are? Is forgetting better, or should we willfully discuss past painful events? A worthwhile read for speculative fiction fans.
This book makes you think of Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind (Wonderful movie).Multiple characters from different points of view who have all been contacted in some form that they or a loved one had a memory erased and would they like to continue not to remember or have the memory put back. This all comes after clients begin to have “traces” that relate to the forgotten memory, like ptsd or deja vu. So now they find themselves asking do I want a memory that was so terrible I had it erased or can I live with not knowing….I guess the only question is what would you do? Wonderful book.
Would you delete a memory if you could? If there was a way to get it back would you want too? This story is narrated by several different people who are affected by a memory deletion company, patients, employees, etc. It was a good read. It wasn't so great that I couldn't put it down. But in the end it made me think about my good and bad memories and what I would do if I had that choice. Personally I'll keep my memories because they make me who I am. The ending was eh.
When I read the description of the book which included an analogy to Black Mirror, I knew I had to read it. This book is told from the POV of five different people- Noor, William, Oscar, Finn, and Mei. We don't know how their stories are interconnected until the end of the book but each has an Interesting and compelling storyline from the start. The plot focuses on Nepenthe, a chain of clinics that deals in memory deletions or "wipes". It has recently come to the light that some patients of Nepenthe are experiencing "traces" of their deleted memories. Tell Me an Ending is about the ramifications of these deletions and subsequent restorations and how they impact both the Nepenthe clients and the people around them. From Noor's storyline we see an employee of Nepenthe grapple with the ethics of this memory work. From the other storylines we see direct consequences of the "wipe" as it relates to relationships, sense of self, and satisfaction with daily life. As I read, I couldn't help but think "Would I delete a memory if given the chance?" And also what would I do if I received a letter stating that I had a memory deleted and would I like to have it restored?" I really enjoyed this book and felt that all 5 of the main characters were very compelling. The premise of the book is fascinating and brings up great ethical and philosophical topics for discussion. I highly recommend this book especially if you are a fan of Black Mirror or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or if you enjoy ethical debates.
What if a technology company could give you relief from your deepest regret or the cause of your PTSD by erasing that memory? Would you take them up on that offer regardless of the cost? At first, I struggled with this story. I don’t know if it was because of the multiple POVs or what seemed like an unreliable narrator in the main character (Noor), but I got confused several times and had to reread certain sections. I eventually decided that it may have been intentional as a device to keep the reader off balance, possibly to provide a similar experience to that of the clients at the Nepenthe clinic who had their bad memories removed. My perseverance paid off as by pushing through I was rewarded in the end. For all the confusing and thought provoking multi-threaded story lines and emotional subtexts, it was worth the effort to reach the final pages. The skillful resolution at the conclusion left me with a positive feeling and pleasant memory of the overall reading experience. Thank you to Netgalley and Scribner for the free review copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.
This is a sprawling book with surprisingly interconnected characters. I appreciated the limited-perspective narration (literally limited, due to memory loss!) and thought the characters were compelling. The concept isn't completely original (Eternal Sunshine, of course), but it's provocative, and the characters and settings make this worthy. Though this is speculative/providing an alternate reality, enough of the environment is contemporary, and there's a lot of empathy, to ground the story. I'd feel comfortable recommending this to any lover of long reads and contemporary yet quality fiction.