Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Book Cover Image: Forgotten by Catherine McKenzieTitle: Forgotten
Author: Catherine McKenzie
ISBN: 9780062115416
No. of Pages: 448
Genre: Fiction

”Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead—and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to re-create her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who assumed her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice her job, her relationships, and everything else she worked so hard to build?”

Thoughts: Most people would jump at the chance for a fresh start, a chance to use the lessons learned from previous actions and build a new life with that hard-won wisdom. What makes Forgotten so interesting is the fact that when given the chance, Emma does not want to take it. While she recognizes certain aspects of her pre-earthquake life were not healthy, she was satisfied enough with who she was and what she had accomplished to want to rebuild it the same way again, much to the chagrin of everyone who knows her and who follows her story. How many readers can speak to the same sense of contentment to not want to change anything? In Forgotten  Catherine McKenzie poses some fascinating questions about fresh starts and society’s glorification of them.

In true Ms. McKenzie fashion, Emma is charming, quirky, and refreshingly realistic. She is not looking for a happily-ever-after. She just wants some normalcy back in her life after a traumatic year of loss and separation. She loves her job and loves her friends. Even better, she does not romanticize either aspect. She knows she works grueling and long hours, more than she should, but she is satisfied in a way that few people are.

Yet, Forgotten is not about Emma’s need for everything to remain the same. It is as much about normalcy as it is about the unbending force of change. It happens constantly and is something that no one can control or avoid. As much as she does not want to admit it, Emma must reassess her life because of those changes that occurred within her and to her life back home in her absence.

Ms. McKenzie knows how to create realistic and enjoyable characters. Emma, with her perfect job, perfect friendship, perfect apartment, and seemingly perfect life, is so very realistic because of her imperfections. Indeed, there are times she is nothing but a hot mess as she comes to grips with her situation. One can get behind a character wearing old, baggy and scruffy clothes in all her unwashed glory as she struggles to recover from her alcoholic, sorrow-filled binge much more easily than behind the polished and meticulously groomed career woman out for blood. It is comforting to know that such meltdowns or lack of grooming extends to fictional characters too, especially in light of the striking beauty and fabulous wealth in most of the female/romantic literature out there.

Forgotten is an adorable and yet thought-provoking story about change and identity. Emma is endearing as she struggles to make sense of her life. Although light-hearted, Ms. McKenzie is able to highlight the more serious aspects about the pressure to change and the overall general lack of satisfaction that society appears to have accepted as normal. With three novels under her belt, Ms. McKenzie is proving herself to be more than the typical rom-com/chick lit writer with her inclusion of realistic characters and pertinent and darker topics.

Acknowledgments: Thank you to Mary Sasso from William Morrow for my review copy!

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