Synopses & Reviews
A gripping novel with the pace of a thriller but the nuanced characterization and deep empathy of some of the literary canon’s most beloved novels, Remember Me Like This
introduces Bret Anthony Johnston as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today. With his sophisticated and emotionally taut plot and his shimmering prose, Johnston reveals that only in caring for one another can we save ourselves.
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 the neighboring town, and, most important, he appears to be fine. 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. Trying to return to normal, his parents do their best to ease Justin back into his old life. But as thick summer heat takes hold, violent storms churn in the Gulf and in the Campbells’ hearts. When a reversal of fortune lays bare the family’s greatest fears—and offers perhaps the only hope for recovery—each of them must fight to keep the ties that bind them from permanently tearing apart.
Advance praise for Remember Me Like This
“A gripping study of the complexities that follow a traumatic life event . . . The reader is transformed into a silent witness alongside the characters.”—Nylon
“I know the novel you’re looking for. It’s the thriller that also has interesting sentences. It’s the one with the driving plot but fully realized characters as well, the one that flows like it was plotted by Dennis Lehane but feels like it was written by Jonathan Franzen. . . . It’s a surprisingly rare breed. . . . Fortunately, there’s Bret Anthony Johnston’s Remember Me Like This. . . . The book is riveting, with the elements of suspense neatly folded into an elegant series of interlocking arcs. . . . There is nowhere you want to stop.”—Esquire
“[A] strong debut . . . Johnston has a talent for drawing well-rounded characters. . . . This is a convincing and uplifting portrait of a family in crisis.”—Publishers Weekly
“An admirable achievement . . . The story starts where other stories might end. . . . [Readers] will find their expectations continually defied as characters refuse to follow a formulaic plot trajectory. . . . This is ultimately an uplifting reading experience owing to the believable love and warmth of the family.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“A sensitive and frequently suspenseful portrait of a family struggling to heal in the aftermath of great trauma.”—Booklist
“It is as a writer that I admire the architecture of Remember Me Like This, the novel’s flawless storytelling. It is as the father of three sons that I vouch for the psychological authenticity of this depiction of any parent’s worst fears. Emotionally, I am with this family as they try to move ahead—embracing ‘the half-known and desperate history’ that they share. I love this novel.”—John Irving
"In Johnston's strong debut, it's been four years since young son Justin disappeared, and during that time the Campbell family in southern Texas has been slowly crumbling under the strain of their grief. But when Justin, now a teenager, is miraculously returned and his abductor set to stand trial for his crimes, the entire family must join together and help him recover the years he has lost. His mother, Laura, who volunteers at a local aquarium studying dolphins, confronts her own sense of guilt and tries to regain her former lust for life. Her husband, Eric, who has found comfort in the arms of another woman, struggles to speak to his son while he plots revenge on the abductor. And Justin's younger brother, Griffin, is just trying to be a normal teen, more concerned with deciphering the signals of his tough-talking girlfriend, Fiona, than confronting psychic scars. As the police investigate the kidnapping and Justin's captor is released before the trial, the tension rises. From the travails of sudden celebrity to the knowledge that the kidnapper is free nearby, the family is tormented. The novel offers a melodrama that tries to sympathetically portray the devastating effects of loss on a family, even (or especially) when the lost are found. Johnston has a talent for drawing well-rounded characters, although verbal excess weighs down the novel's pace. In the end, this is a convincing and uplifting portrait of a family in crisis. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a best book of the year by The Independent (London) and The Irish Times, and the editor of Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and a 5 Under 35 honor from the National Book Foundation. He teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the director of creative writing.