Star Rating: ★★★✰✰
Sharon Guskin’s debut novel The Forgetting Time follows Janie Zimmerman and her 4-year-old son Noah. Noah suffers from nightmares. He is terrified of water and wakes up every night shouting for his mother. Only it’s not Janie he’s looking for. He wants his other mother. And he wants to go home, to a home that Janie has no knowledge of.
Dr Jerome Anderson has been diagnosed with a rare form of aphasia which causes him to forget words. He knows his mind will go completely, but he is determined to finish his book before it happens. Despite being a joke amongst his peers, his work looks at reincarnation, in particular at children who remember past lives.
Janie is sceptical of Jerome’s work, especially when she finds out he’s looking for a story to end his book on. But when they meet a mother who’s son has been missing for 8 years, she starts to wonder if Noah’s problems could finally be solved.
The premise of The Forgetting Time is what grabbed me first. The idea of reincarnation, while I don’t necessarily believe in it, is definitely something that fascinates me, and out of all the afterlife possibilities, I do think it’s the most interesting one. So I was definitely excited about reading this book. Each chapter starts with an excerpt from a non-fiction book about reincarnation, which only made me want to look into the subject even more.
In saying that, I was a little disappointed once I started reading. There wasn’t much of a flow to the beginning of the story and I felt like I was slogging my way through it. There’s a lot of switching perspectives which got tedious and confusing after a while.
But I stuck with it and I’m glad I did because once Janie and Noah meet Denise shit gets good. I won’t say too much because I don’t want to give too much away, but if you find that the beginning of the book is slow, persevere, I promise it’s worth it. There’s a bit of a mystery, which made me feel very at home (I love a mystery story, in case you haven’t noticed from other posts), but it’s not too much of a mystery that it takes away from the emotions of the story.
The Forgetting Time is definitely a book that tugs at your heartstrings, I imagine even more so if you’re a mother. Despite it’s unusual and possibly unbelievable premise it’s easy to put yourself in Janie’s place and feel everything she’s feeling. This is a testament to Guskin’s evocative writing style. You’re gonna cry at least once during this book.
As I was reading this book I wished I was part of a book club because I know that this would be a perfect book to discuss. There’s so much going on in terms of themes and characters, and the whole premise would give a group so much to talk about, so if you’re looking for a book club pick then The Forgetting Time is definitely one to choose. Even if you’re not it’s worth reading for yourself.