forget me not

My first thought upon finishing this novel was that it would make a fantastic movie.

The book tells the story of Linda, a gentle soul living in Seattle, alone and lonely. She spends most of her time locked up in her apartment with very little contact with the outside world.

As the story progresses, you find out why. Linda is a replacement child. Her mother found a way to “make” her in order to replace her daughter, who died. But Linda was not her, and could never replace her. So one day her mother just left. Linda was left to raise herself at their walled-off property somewhere in rural Washington. Until one day, something makes her run, jump off the wall, and find a world that she didn’t know existed and was definitely not ready for.

Years later in Seattle, when Anvi, a new neighbor, moves in, Linda tries and hopes that she can maybe make a friend. That she can maybe be normal. Anvi introduces Linda to virtual reality and a whole different way of seeing things. But when your memories from the past are as muddy as Linda’s are, the virtual world is both a blessing and a curse. Linda is not a good narrator of her own life, and she at times can’t tell what memories are hers and what memories are made up. There are reasons for that, and we, the reader, figure them out slowly as the story is told.

Things start to look promising for Linda, but then another disaster strikes.

“Forget Me Not” is a mixture of mystery, suspense, the upside and the downside of social media, the consequences of trauma, and the beauty of new friendships.

Linda’s life story and the way her brain works and processes both past and present is fascinating. It demonstrates how things we see as simple and mundane can be so complicated and hard to understand if you grow up alone, with no one to point you in the right direction and teach you the basics.

The book makes you think and keeps you wondering and guessing what happened all the way. It is a fantastic psychological mystery by a great Pacific Northwest author.

And if you would like to meet Alexandra Oliva, she will be at Inklings Bookshop for our PNW Author Spring Fair from 1-3 p.m. June 3. Mark your calendar!

• “Forget Me Not: A Novel” by Alexandra Oliva was published by Ballantine Books in March 2021. It retails for $17.

• Anne Zastrow works for Inklings Bookshop. She and other Inklings staffers review books in this space every week.

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