“Dare to remember” is the story of a young woman named Lisa who undergoes a life changing trauma when an acquaintance follows her and her flatmate home from a pub. By night’s end her flatmate and best friend Ali is dead and she will spend the next month in hospital with life threatening injuries.
The problem? Lisa Fulbrook is so injured that she misses the trial and sentencing – AND – she cannot remember what happened that night. Why did Ali die while she lived? Why them?
When she is finally released from hospital, Lisa moves to a quiet village to recuperate. She rents a small house and works from home. She goes out only to shop for the necessities and when she does, she bundles up with a scarf to hide the angry knife scar on her neck. She shuns social contact for the most part, but befriends John, an elderly man who lives next door. A widower, he lives alone except for the companionship of his small black spaniel, Riley. When John becomes unwell, Lisa takes over the walking and general care of Riley. Having this small fur person in her life gets her through some of her most harrowing and lonely times.
“Riley is her lifeline”
While walking Riley, Lisa meets a new friend and fellow dogwalker, Jessica. Though Lisa is withdrawn at first, Jessica’s gregarious nature wins Lisa over and the two become friends. Even Jessica’s friendship though cannot alleviate Lisa’s increasing depression.
As the months pass, Lisa valiantly tries to remember the sequence of events that occurred the night of the attack. Grieving for her friend Ali, she suffers from survivor’s guilt and disturbing flashbacks plague her days… and her dreams. Her regular trips into the city for psychotherapist appointments do not seem to be helping. The circumstances of the attack continue to elude her and Lisa feels disengaged with life, as though she is just marking time.
“She’s had enough drama to last her a lifetime.”
Events unfold that force Lisa to become involved with other people. All the time, the reader wonders if she will remember what happened to her. And… if she does, will she be glad that she remembered, or devastated?
The entire time I was reading this novel I kept wondering, “Is Lisa as genuine as she seems? or, is the author tricking me and Lisa is an unreliable narrator? As letting you know the answer to that question would be a spoiler (and I never divulge spoilers!), I guess you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out.
Though it is touted as a psychological thriller, I think the novel is more of a slow-paced suspense novel. There is no real mystery here, and no huge twists or thrills. Just a well-written book that explores how people can be affected by trauma and how interpersonal interaction can help them adapt and strive through it. The novel also explores ‘restorative justice‘ and examines how it can benefit the victims of crime.
The fact that “Dare to remember” is Susanna Beard’s debut novel is belied by the skillful writing and thought provoking plot. All in all, an enjoyable read for those who don’t need a fast pace or tension-filled pages, and who like endings that are neatly tied up.
Thanks to Legend Press via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel for review.
Susanna Beard‘s day job in public relations both demands and celebrates writing and she’s helped promote everything from websites to wine. She writes every day, all the time: news, articles, speeches, websites, blogs – and now novels.
She likes dark, contemplative stories with a twist; she’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships and the impact of insignificant events on people’s lives.
Susanna started writing fiction after attending a course at the Faber Academy. Other passions include her dogs, who keep her grounded, and tennis, which clears her brain of pretty much everything. Susanna lives in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. “Dare to remember” is her first novel.