Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on All is Not Forgotten.
This novel is based on an interesting premise--the use of a particular drug to erase all memories of a traumatic event from the victim’s memory--seen as a useful treatment for soldiers with PTSD, etc. So when 15-year-old
Connecticut high school student Jenny Cramer is brutally raped outside a house party, her mother is quick to agree on the treatment to alleviate the horror Jenny would experience in remembering. Despite the physical injuries the girl suffers, the blocking of emotion allows her to resume her life without too many complications…until almost a year later, when Jenny tries to kill herself.
This is when the narrator enters the story. Doctor Alan Forrester specializes in memory recover, rejects the particular drug therapy that erases memory of trauma, and works with patients who must recover their painful memories in order to purge themselves of the depression and rage trapped within. It is a grueling experience for doctor and patient, but one with which Forrester has already seen some success. Just before Jenny, Forrester has begun intensive work with a young soldier injured in Afghanistan whose repressed memories are ruining his marriage and ability to bond with his young son.
But each case is different. While the therapy works with the soldier, Sean Logan, alone, the therapist finds it helpful to see each of Jenny’s parents, Tom and Charlotte, separately, albeit less frequently. In this manner, the private lives and secrets of the major players in the drama are explored. Despite the long and troubling struggle for answers to free Jenny from her nightmare, Forrester is confident of success, sharing even his personal details, his marriage and family, his work at a local prison with inmates convicted of violent crimes, his quest to understand human nature and all its deviations.
What happens to an innocent teen the night of the party is the fulcrum for the trauma of such violence on victim and family, small-town Fairview, reluctant to believe any
of their residents might perpetuate such a crime. To save their daughter, Jenny’s parents must be willing to share their secrets with Forrester--not an easy task for a controlling wife who keeps her own counsel and her quiet husband, who often lets his wife take the reins. The doctor deftly weaves these issues into Jenny’s story, even Sean, influencing the path of recovery.
Stories flow from character to character through their sessions with Forrester, who sometimes leads the reader through his own troubled psyche as the plot evolves. There are informative passages and the workings of the brain, but human behavior and its consequences dominate the novel.
The girl, her family, the soldier, and the therapist support the emotional tenor of a night of violence that shakes more than one family to the core.