How We Remember traces the effects of alcoholism, mental illness and abuse.
We follow Jo’s story both past and present. Jo is coming to terms and grieving for her mother who has recently past away. Her father, passed on her mothers diaries to Jo as he has no interest in reading them.
Jo during her childhood experienced abuse by her uncle, however, it would seem that her mother wanted to almost “sweep” this under the carpet or so Jo would think. However, I got the impression that this weighed heavy on her mothers heart and her mother was riddled with guilt that she just did not do enough.
Jo, despite all of her issues in her childhood, moved away to London and managed to carve out a good career despite the circumstances, however, her brother did not seem to do as well as she did and continued to live in the same town, like to have a drink and dabbled in drugs and had a lot of ideas about many many different businesses. At times he was just vile and I got the impression that he knew exactly which nerve to hit with Jo and was just spiteful. But, I also felt he was jealous that Jo had made something of herself, she worked very hard to get to where she was which is something I do not think he realised she did and just felt that everything just fell into her lap.
Jo seems to be the stabilising figure of the family, however, you get the impression that she has so much to say and so many questions – but, these would continue to remain unanswered and Jo becomes a passenger in her own mind with trying to come to terms with what happened in her childhood.
This book covers a lot of topics from abuse to mental health to families going through periods of reflection. What I also appreciated was J.M Monaco covering the issue of grief. I believe some authors shy away from this topic, however, J.M Monaco went head first into it and showed grief to the full effect and the impact this has which I really appreciated.
I went through a full range of emotions with this book from immense sadness, to anger to despair at the realisation that this family never spoke to one another, they just lived with each other in a routine and there was a white elephant in the room and no one wanted to talk about it.
I had a deep appreciation of this novel and admiration for J.M Monaco who should be commended as her writing was simply beautiful and respectful and she had the ability to reflect on unique family dynamics that many authors would just run away from.
About the Book
When Jo O’Brien returns home after her mother’s death, she is forced to confront both.
An unexpected inheritance fans the flames of existing tensions between Jo and her brother, and their mother’s long-forgotten diary recalls the messy aftermath of an uncle’s sexual advances towards Jo when she was a teenager. Like the diary, Jo’s memory of events is full of gaps, but one thing is certain – she will never regain what was lost.
About the Author
J.M. Monaco grew up in the northeast region of the USA where she studied English and Creative Writing at undergraduate level. She worked in a variety of areas before taking up postgraduate studies in England where she completed her PhD. She now lives in a buzzing city in the south west of England with her husband and children.
How We Remember is published by Reddoor Publishing