Book Review: “I Wish I Could Remember You” by L.J. Epps

 

WishIRemember

In I Wish I could Remember You, Emily Montgomery, a high school teacher, is a victim of domestic violence. Now trying to divorce her abusive husband, Steven, an attorney, she has met Robert.

Sounds like a perfect idea for a romance novel. The trick is to create enough obstacles to keep apart the loving couple, so that after many twists and turns they can get back together. Easy, right?

Nope.

Issue #1: Having separated from Steven for one and half years, Emily still has “some unsolved feelings” for him, a man who has hurt her multiple times both physically and emotionally.

Issue #2: Steven doesn’t want to give up Emily, and will do anything to keep her to himself.

Problem #1: We often see fictional depiction of violence against women both with and outside of families. In these cases men are seen to be dominating, aggressive, chauvinistic, believing in being tough and masculine, concentrating on their own needs while taking those of women for granted, and many of them have experienced some sort of abuse in childhood. If such portrayal is cliché, then Steven as a character stands out. Details of how he loves Emily and misses the daughter they have lost (directly as a result of his behaviour) makes it hard to convince readers that he favours extramarital affairs and violence over his marriage.

Issue #3: Emily loses her memory as a result of a bad accident. Specifically, she loses all memory of Steven’s wrongdoing but remembers him as a wonderful husband. Worse, she completely forgets Robert, the man she truly loves.

Problem #2: Retrograde amnesia is a convenient but risky literary device because it is hard to back up with supporting material. This is particularly so in cases of selective memory loss.

I Wish I Could Remember You does a good job convincing readers of the neurological obstacles Emily goes through. The medical examination process is reasonably detailed, and readers see a vulnerable, woman who is intellectually and emotionally less than her real self – the one she should be at the moment, having developed strength, confidence and independence from the pain she suffered as a victim of domestic violence. To convince the regressed Emily of who she truly is is akin to asking her to leap forward in time, to become someone in the unknown future.

Problem #3: How will the people around her adjust to this situation?

Well, you will have to read the book to find out. But it is tricky to convince someone who has retrograde amnesia that you, the person whom she thinks she is meeting for the first time, is actually her soul mate and fiance.

To conclude this review, I Wish I could Remember You shows every sign of having been meticulously edited, so that it is grammatically perfect. (Well, things get a bit slack in the second half of the book.) There is nothing wrong of editing, but somehow this editor has somehow reduced the author’s style to zero, making the writing stiff, unnatural and slightly repetitive. With that said, this is still a good book.

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