We’re participating in the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop and our review/giveaway for that hop is The Song Remains the Same by bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch. This is a captivating story about a woman with amnesia but containing none of the normal clichés so many writers resort to. To me, it’s the perfect kind of book for a lazy summer afternoon of reading.
Nell Slattery was one of only two survivors when her plane, from Manhattan to San Francisco, crashed in a field in the Midwest. The other survivor was her seatmate, Anderson, a rather well-known film actor. Their seats were ejected from the plane somehow and they landed fairly intact in the nearby field.
“A smattering of nurses, the man and older woman, and Dr. Macht remain.
‘Nell,’ he says and sits carefully on the bed. ‘Nell, you were in a plane crash. What can you tell me about what you remember about it?’
My eyes circle around, my teeth gnash my bottom lip. I try to search about my memory. What do I remember? A plane? Did I get on a plane? No, no, that wasn’t me. I don’t think I did. A crash? How could I not remember a crash? No, impossible, couldn’t have been me.”
When Nell awakens from her coma in the hospital, she has no clue who she is or who anyone around her is. It’s as if she has just been born. She’s told that although she is doing well, her pregnancy didn’t survive. Since she didn’t know she was pregnant, or anything else about herself, she only feels a kind of remote sadness. Was that a pregnancy she wanted or not? She has no idea.
Nell isn’t alone. There are several people in the room with her who apparently are her family. There’s her melodramatic mother, her sister Rory, and someone who says he’s her husband Peter. They do everything they can to try to help her find memories but something doesn’t ring true for her. Her instincts are telling her that they aren’t being entirely truthful with her but she doesn’t know where the missing pieces are.
Apparently Nell is the daughter of a famous painter. She apparently loved music and art until she was about thirteen years old, when she suddenly quit pursuing both. She apparently was a rather uptight person who apparently runs an art gallery with her sister. Her marriage to Peter has apparently gone through a rough spot when he had an affair with Ginger in his office but they apparently have since reconciled, and apparently the baby was his. Nell only has her family’s word for all of this because she can’t remember squat.
One thing Nell is certain of is that this is her chance to be free. She can be whoever she wants to be and she’s certain she’s not really an uptight person. She vows to make changes in her life and to become the person she really feels she is instead of the person her family keeps telling her that she is. She’s just not sure how she’s going to do that.
“My old room, much like my apartment with Peter, is nothing like I would have pictured for myself. Where are the teenage heart-throb posters? Where are the old record albums and drawers full of letters to camp friends?…If you were to look around here – a detective in search of whom I would grow up to be – there’d be no signs: my teenage self is a generic whiteboard, a canvas with no color. I feel a pang of sadness for her, for me.”
Meanwhile she’s got to find the keys to unlock her memories and that isn’t going to be easy. Photo albums don’t seem to help. She dreams of a wonderful white Victorian house with a wrap-around porch but her mom insists they never had a house like that. Still there’s something in her mom’s voice that makes Nell think she’s lying. No one will tell Nell why her dad left them or where he is, and that feels like a key to her.
There’s also something rotten in the state of the stories her family is telling her about her relationship with Peter. It just doesn’t feel right. Some piece is missing. No matter how much she tries to become close to him and give their relationship time to grow again, her visceral reactions to him tell her that something is broken. Of course, she has no idea whether she can even trust her instincts. Can she trust anything or anyone?
Nell feels an instant connection with Anderson and with a news reporter, Jamie Reardon. She feels instinctively that she can trust them, so she does. In return for an exclusive on her hot story, Jamie agrees to research into her life and her family’s lives – and most importantly, to find her father if at all possible. She’s counting on that research to help her unlock the safe where her memories are stored so she can get back to her life and/or to create a new one. That’s all she wants and she’s determined to do whatever it takes to make that happen, despite the roadblocks that her family keep throwing in her way and the doctors’ pronouncement that it may never happen. Anderson, who has his memories, vows to support her during her search since he insists he owes his life to her.
“’Look Jamie, I like you. I have no idea why, but I like you. I trust you. Evidently, you’re the only one around here who’s willing to tell me the facts of my life, facts I cannot goddamn remember. So please. Level with me.’
He exhales, then runs his palms over and down his cheeks. ‘I have significant doubts about this.’…
‘Do you want to be part of Operation Free Nell Slattery – you know, like, free me from the hospital?’ Free me from this void of blackness.
‘I do,’ he says, taking it too seriously.
‘Relax,’ I say aloud. ‘You’re not selling me your soul. Besides, I thought journalists didn’t have souls to begin with.’
Ha ha, we say together.”
Will she succeed? What family secrets will she uncover? Will her relationship with Peter survive it?
Nell is a strong, determined woman who shows amazing courage in seeking out and facing her demons, demons she suspects exist but are a complete unknown. I admired the hell out of her. I can’t imagine waking up as a blank slate and not even knowing if I could trust my instincts. Her family? Well let’s just say, I wanted to jerk a knot in her mother and slap her sister silly. Peter – I can’t write what I thought of Peter for public consumption. Luckily Nell finds some reliable, honest supporters along the way.
Allison Winn Scotch has written an amazing, gripping novel of self discovery that I honestly could not put down. I got hooked in the first few pages and literally got nothing done until I had finished The Song Remains the Same. I’ve never had amnesia, but I think all of us have family secrets and/or relationship myths that we buy into almost as if we are amnesia victims, and the shock of discovering how we’ve deluded ourselves can be pretty overwhelming. I do think The Song Remains the Same will make a great read for a lazy afternoon. Just don’t plan to do anything else that day except read but then, hey, just reading sounds like a great afternoon to me!
Can’t wait to read it?
The Song Remains the Same was published on April 12, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
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One lucky reader will win an ARC of The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch.
Once you’ve entered our giveaway, be sure to click on the link below the Rafflecopter form to link to all the other book-related giveaways in the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop!
1) The deadline for entries is Wednesday night, 8/1/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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