The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin (2 out of 5)

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I have no idea where I picked this one up, but wow… I liked that cover. I read the back and immediately went for it. This is the first fictional title for the Flatiron Books imprint (St Martin’s Press), and well, they certainly picked a lightning rod for a auspicious beginning. This one is out on 2/2/16
I’m glad I got the chance to read it. What a mindfuck this book is. I enjoyed it but it picks you up, tosses you around, plays with every dial of intellect one possesses, and throws in a bit of paranormal reincarnation for good measure.
I have NEVER read a book like this, although I can see why Jodi Picoult is one of the main blurbs on the back. This is a straight-up reality check, this book.  A number of characters intersect in the strangest of lifepaths. Janie is a divorced mom who’s struggling to raise her 4 year old son Noah on her own. Noah has all sorts of behavioral issues, from refusing to bathe and be in water, to having nightmares, to telling her she’s not his mother. Things continue to get worse, as his school takes notice of these issues and tells Janie she needs to get her son professional help. Help comes, in the unlikely form of Dr. Jerome Anderson, a man dying and trying to finish his last book (similar, at times, to a master thesis). The subject of his book are young children who appear to have the ghosts and spirits of dead people in them. This is what makes Noah (and those in the cases before him) act out. Jerome tells Janie the only way they can help Noah is to figure out, from the information he gives them and the character traits he exhibits, whose spirit has taken over his body. After several missteps, they meet with Denise, a grieving mother who’s still hoping her son (who’s been missing 8 years) is alive and comes home someday, and inform her that there’s a chance her son Tommy has taken over Noah’s body and soul. But to give that any credence, Denise has to admit her son is dead. And where is he? How did he die? Will they bring him to justice? Where is the true spirit of Noah, Janie’s pride and joy? How can Jerome make this legit and can he finish the book and solve this scientific case before he dies? This is a veritable punch drunk slam dunk. There is a new twist every other chapter, but it overwhelms the reader at times, to the point that the plot gets bogged down with emotion and the intellect takes the detour.
Unfortunately, it goes in and out and all over way too much for my liking, and things are wrapped up way too nicely. I had figured out what the connecting thread was between the cases to the current case that the book wraps around, and I was right. So it lost me a little there. The parent-child love relationship is never in doubt, but the reader’s fragile grip on reality is after reading only halfway through.
I had no idea what to make of it whilst reading it, and I have no idea what to make of it now that I am done. I’m glad they started the fictional sector with a book like this. It’s sure to have people talking and arguing every which way when it is released, and you can certainly see a labor of love, but you can also see holes in parts of the narrative. So it didn’t capture me as much as I think the author wanted to. An audience? No doubt it will gain one. It’s a masterfully told story; the only problem is that half of the book you’re busy going “What the ?” and it loses some of its grip upon the reader as a result. It would make a really good book club book. No question. And a great debut novel. No question. It just wasn’t the one that knocked my socks off.

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~ by generationgbooks on January 8, 2016.

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