on July 18th 2017
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In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.
Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.
As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.
TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains graphic details on sexual assault, rape, and other sexual violence.
This was my first book by Wendy Walker and let me say I’m now a fan for life.
“I wanted to know why she did not behave the way I would have expected. I wanted to know why I could not see the rape in her eyes.”
This book opens with Jenny Kramer’s assault in, for me, brutal detail. I had chill bumps and a racing heart from the very beginning. Wendy pulls you in by helping you relate to Jenny in a way that is outside of the attack as well as in it. What I loved about this book is that you’re not getting Jenny’s POV or any of the actual main characters. Instead, it is told from an outside perspective, a person just on the cusp of being a main character, but isn’t: The psychiatrist who helps to treat Jenny and her family. From this POV the reader is able to see the broad range of the entire plot instead of bits and pieces as you go through the book. Honestly, I don’t think I could have read the graphic scenes from Jenny herself; it was just too brutal and it would be difficult not to place yourself in that POV.
What I find most compelling from this book is how Jenny’s family chose to “help” her deal with the rape. Instead of putting her into therapy straight away or helping her deal with the emotional trauma afterwards they chose a experimental treatment that would suprress her memories of the attack. At the time of the book, this medication was used to help prevent PTSD in soldiers so that they would have something like amnesia, but only with the traumatic event. These scientists and doctors thought they if the patient had no recollection of the event then there would be no PTSD to overcome. To me, this screamed like a bad idea, and Dr. Forrester felt the same.
Even though Jenny’s father opposed the treatment, her mother won and so Jenny was given this experimental drug to induce amnesia surrounding her rape. Even though she couldn’t remember the rape, her body did. Sometimes we encounter situations that are so grotesque, so vile and disturbing that it leaves a stain on your soul, and if not dealt with up front it will consume you. Jenny knew she’d be raped…she just couldn’t remember the specifics. And what was worse, she had to endure her body healing from it. Even though the play-by-play wasn’t there, the emotional and physical aftermath was.
“Sitting on my bed with all these things I used to love but not loving them anymore, I just wanted to set them on fire. That’s when I knew I was never going to be all right again.”
It didn’t take very long for Jenny’s mom and dad to realize the treatment didn’t work, and sadly they had to find out in the most horrible of ways.
This is where Dr. Forrester comes in and tries to help, not only Jenny, but her broken family as well. It was intriguing to witness her family’s reaction to Jenny’s rape and how each parent handled it. Her mother wanted to forget and move on, her father felt as if he failed his little girl. A lot was happening in this book, but it all meshed well and the pace was, for the most part, on point with the plot.
This book kept me in a cloud of suspense; Wendy really makes you think about what you’re reading. With the attack, everyone became a suspect. I connected so earnestly with Jenny even though it wasn’t written in her POV. Being able to witness the entire family’s day-to-day lives kept me engrossed in the story and helped me not pit one against the other in my head. Jenny and her parents all had their issues and your heart will ache for each of them.
Overall, this book was an amazing read. The plot was amazingly well executed. There were quite a few moments that left me breathless and reeling. I was shocked and could never figure out the book until the end. Wendy Walker will leave you on your toes guessing the whole time.