Thursday, October 11, 2012

Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads: When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal. 

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?

My thoughts: I love Catherine McKenzie's books and writing style. I find her incredibly talented and well rounded. This is the third book by her I have read. Once again, she has surprised me with her knowledge base as this time around the protagonist is an attorney who, before leaving for Africa, is up for partner. She has sacrificed and put in her time, sweat, tears and given up everything else except her lawyer boyfriend and one good friend when her mother succumbs to cancer and she is handed an inheritance that includes airfare and a month long safari to Africa.

Six months later she returns to her life. There was a supernatural experience that may be chalked up to a feverish illness, a promise to return to pick her up later and, a day later, a devastating earthquake. Emma is stranded in a remote village with no contact with the outside world. Slowly, she adjusts her expectations and helps with the service work. When the airport opens six months later Emma goes home. When she gets there, however, she discovers that she has been presumed dead and life continued without her. The life she spent three and half decades building is gone.

Emma tells the story of Africa intermittently in her head and through dreams as she tries to put her life back together. She didn't know the earthquake was devastating in the capital. But something within her changed while she was in Africa. The timing of Africa revelations perfectly lines up with her current circumstances. The author is still one of my favorite because I love the way she tells the story, whatever story she tells, and the voice she tells it in. The reason for the three stars instead of a higher rating is simply due to the fact that I lacked the understanding of the connection of Africa and the new Emma. I saw the changes with Emma and I liked them. I liked the romance, too. I liked Emma's take charge personality like many of McKenzie's previous protagonists. I simply didn't feel as moved by the conclusion of the book as I have in other books by this author.

On the other hand, this is a much cleaner read than her previous two books so I didn't have to hide from my kids while I was reading it. Catherine McKenzie is articulate, hilarious, and and writes strong yet human protagonists. I guess my real hang up with this book is that I wanted to be more in Emma's head when she makes the decisions she makes to change her life. Why she changed certain things and didn't change others. I also felt disconnected from Dominic, the potential love interest. I wanted more of a back story on him. I liked him but never really connected to him beyond the fact that he had a broken heart and was exiting a bad relationship. Beyond that, I wanted to know his motivations for his actions. In fact, I think I hungered for understanding everybody's motivations and they didn't meet my expectations.

Still - good read. One of my favorite authors. It's her own fault for entertaining me so completely with her first two novels.

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*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.


Shirley said...

I read Forgotten and really enjoyed it. I may have to pick up Arranged and Spin to see how they compare.

Kim said...

I sometimes wish I could just start over like that - but I wonder if I'd make the same mistakes in my new life.