Publication Date: Available Now from Two Roads
Four years have passed since Justin Campbell’s disappearance, a tragedy that rocked the small town of Southport, Texas. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown in the bay? As the Campbells search for answers, they struggle to hold what’s left of their family together.
Then one afternoon, the impossible happens. The police call to report that Justin has been found only miles away in a nearby town, and most important, he appears to be fine. And though the reunion is a miracle, Justin’s homecoming exposes the deep rifts that have diminished his family, the wounds they all carry that may never fully heal.
This was a beautifully written and very haunting read, where the author delves into the lives of one family who has faced tragedy, then had an unexpected resolution – a child they thought lost is returned to them, which, you would think, would make everything perfect. With “Remember Me Like This” Bret Anthony Johnston has taken that theme and explored where such a happy event can also cause huge emotional issues. Not only for the child who was gone and has come back older, wiser and changed but for the family that was left behind, always hoping but perhaps beginning to come to terms with the loss.
Every character in this novel is gorgeously drawn and authentic, very real emotions come off the page and it is often sad but also very uplifting. A picture is painted of a family that was fracturing even before Justin went missing, in those small ways that creep up on you….after he disappears the shockwaves of that continue to affect them, then when he returns the aftermath of that is enthralling, wonderful, scary and brilliant.
I was especially fond of the relationship drawn between the two brothers, both before and after, for me this was at the heart of the story perhaps even more than the parental interactions – Griff was the character I related to most, growing up as the child left behind, his survivors guilt affecting him in ways he doesnt understand – then suddenly Justin is back. Different and yet the same. A traumatic event whilst also being a supposedly happy one.
The story ebbs and flows as everyone adjusts to yet another new reality – it is perfectly paced and has a mystery element with regards to Justin’s disappearance, but that is not what it is really about. This is about family, love, holding onto hope and learning to be happy in the face of huge upheavel. Brilliantly done. I don’t want to say too much more because the whole point of this is to take the journey with the Campbell’s – evocative and terrifically compelling, this is one that will stay with me.
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Happy Reading Folks!