Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review: Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer

In Remember to Forget from Watty Award-winning author Ashley Royer, Levi has refused to speak since the tragic death of his girlfriend, Delia, and can't seem to come out of his depression and hindering self-doubt. Desperate to make some positive change in Levi’s life, his mother sends him to live with his father in Maine. Though the idea of moving from Australia to America seems completely daunting, Levi passively accepts his fate, but once he lands faces personal struggles and self-doubt at the same time he and his dad battle through resentment and misunderstanding. And then, while at therapy, Levi meets Delilah, a girl who eerily reminds him of someone he lost.

Rating: 1 Star

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In the beginning of the book, Levi is an annoying little shit. His attitude is terrible and I won't give him a pass because he's grieving. I understand grief, I understand depression, and I don't know if it's because he was a horrible person or whether the writing was overdone to portray his depression, but he was a jerk to the people around him and manipulative towards his father. One moment that stands out as especially petty was in the airport when he made it seem like he needed help only to his father off. It was rude, plain and simple. And I'm sorry, but what teenager doesn't realize that countries have different currency? Clearly you can't use Australian dollars in an American restaurant. These events made him very unsympathetic and for an unhappy reading experience. If you're going to have this sort of downswing in action, at least try not to have it happen in the first ten percent of the book. It makes it so difficult to want to carry on.

Something that bothered me with Levi and his therapist Candace was Candace allowing Delilah to be in the room at the same time she was in session with Levi. That's a big problem in a few respects: privacy, patient confidentiality, common sense. All so Delilah could find a file for her? No, I'm sorry, no therapist worth their salt is going to have an unauthorized person in session with their client like that and if they did, then they're a horrible therapist. She's discussing his issues, his medications, everything in front of this stranger. What is wrong with you, Candace? And yes, I'm quite sure she's in the same room because she is able to see what Levi is writing on his whiteboard; Candace does not repeat it out loud. That whole scene made me angry.

Going on toward the half way point of the book, I was still having a hard time finding any way to feel sympathetic toward Levi. He was written as a perfect jerk towards those around him and while I might agree that those in the throws of depression and grief can push away those that are close to them, the narrative didn't feel like that. It felt like an ordinary seventeen year old boy being a complete jerk.

Even when he sort of stopped being a jerk, his personality didn't get better, it simply flat lined. The storytelling did too, for that matter. From 45% onward, there story fell into neutral territory. The story was boring, the characters became flat; there wasn't anything that made me really want to continue. I ended up breezing through the rest of the book so that I would be able to find out the ending and give a fair opinion of the second half of the book.

There just didn't seem to be a point. There wasn't any "action" from the midway point onward that made reading it interesting, no big resolution that signaled the end of the story. Things just went along and then stopped.

I noticed that this was an expanded version of the original Wattpad story and I can't say that it seems to have been a good idea. There was a lot of padding that could have been avoiding with some good editing. There was an opportunity here to tell a story about teenage grief and depression, along with the contrast of having to move between countries in the midst of all that, but the opportunity and the story went unfulfilled, leaving this reader with a one star book.

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