Remind Me Again What Happened

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Release Date: 
June 26, 2018
Algonquin Books
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When does friendship cross boundaries to become more? As graduate students, Rachel, Claire, and Charlie form an inseparable bond. Rachel's parents die unexpectedly and Claire, a natural nurturer, gets her out of her funk by moving in with her at parents' spacious home in Boston. Before long Charlie also takes up residence in the home they name "The Orphanage."

Years pass with Charlie marrying Claire and relocating to Vermont where Charlie is in charge of the local newspaper. Claire freelances as a reporter in exotic locales, giving her the opportunity to travel and discover other cultures, which puts a strain on their marriage.

While on assignment in the remote area of Tamil Nadu, Claire gets bitten by a mosquito causing her to suffer from high fevers, seizures, and damage to her central nervous system. Diagnosed as having Japanese encephalitis and lucky to be alive Claire is transported to a Florida hospital.

Charlie rushes to her side and though very ill, she retains no memory of her recent past—her childhood and the time before Vermont are attainable, but with her and Charlie's lives together, she is blocked. The doctors report this is not unusual, but Claire must be kept quiet and on medication with the hope she will regain her lost months and years.

Rachel leaves her editing position to help Claire recover in Vermont. Tension abounds as well as mistrust and resentment as the three try to find some sort of semblance of normalcy to their lives.

Each character voices their circumstances. Rachel's discourse shows her feelings: "Claire, in a way, has always written our stories. Charlie and I have both always looked to her to tell us what comes next. I am waiting for her to show us how to go forward from here. I sense that Charlie is waiting for the same thing.

"But if Charlie is right about Claire's acts of revision, then our next step may actually be a step back into the past. Perhaps I am even more eager for her to lead us in that direction. Maybe she will crack open the truth of what happened to us. I've been waiting all these years for her merely to explain why. I'd forgive her if she'd help me understand."

Meanwhile, Claire puzzles through her mind: "I am remembering the first kiss Charlie ever offered me, that gentle graze against my neck, sheepish and quick, testing my reaction. How did I react? The memory is frayed . . . There is guilt attached to this memory, something I most certainly feel, although I can't be sure why. Did I hurt Charlie by not responding to his kiss? Did Rachel take offense at this small act of intimacy?"

Charlie's ruminations are as such: "I wonder if Claire, even then, saw our life—my life—as too small. Our relationship was happening over the static connections of long-distance phone calls. Perhaps if I had made more time away from work. Perhaps if I hadn't grown defensive when she mocked me about what was keeping me so late at the office . . . Perhaps then we wouldn't be in this stifling predicament where Claire is upstairs and I am downstairs and one of us, at any given moment, is uncertain about why the other seems so full of anger and impatience and disappointment."

The ever-changing twists and turns with the juxtaposition of three lives seeped in history, secrets, and frustrations blend together to create a story of how easily life can change. Emotion runs rampant, yet the enjoyment of this novel is slowed down by a lot of in-depth backstory offering inconsequential information.