This is yet another representative of the female-who-had-traumatic-event-and-forgot-everything genre. But common tropes aside, this is an engrossing, entertaining book.
Police find seventeen-year-old Samantha (“Sam”) Franco wounded and confused along the side of the road, with no idea who she is or how she got there. Her identity is determined and her parents located, but she has no memory of them. Nor does she remember her best friend Cassie, who disappeared along with Sam, but did not return.
Sam is surprised to find out that the person she used to be was pretty awful. Moreover, she isn’t much taken with Del, the guy who was her boyfriend. On the other hand, she has an immediate chemistry with the Carson, the best friend of her fraternal twin Scott. But she learns that, like her mother, the old Sam was contemptuous of Carson because his father is the landscaper for the wealthy Francos. Scott tells Sam everything is going to be okay, but Sam isn’t so sure:
Because it wasn’t okay – it was never going to be okay. I was stuck in this life I didn’t remember, squeezed into the shell of this girl … and the more I learned about her, the more I was starting to hate her.”
Scott explains to Sam that she used to be a different person (more like she is now, since her accident), until she started hanging out with Cassie, and then she changed for the worse – much worse. Sam asks Carson if he knows why she was like that, and his response is one of the best parts of the book for making a lesson-like point:
‘Jesus, Sam, I wish I knew, but I don’t. Your parents were good to you. And so was Scott, and even though you changed when you started hanging out with Cassie, not everything can be blamed on her. You made those decisions.”
As the story progresses, Sam’s memories start returning in bits and pieces, until finally they come crashing down on her, and she learns the whole stunning truth of what happened to her and why.
Discussion: The fact that Sam doesn’t remember how awful she used to treat people provides the author plenty of opportunities to expose a “normal” person’s reaction (i.e., the “new” Sam) to the bullying and cruel behavior of the “old” Sam and of her ostensible friends and boyfriend.
And Carson may have been too good to be realistic, but I have to applaud one of his positive attributes not usually present in too-good-to-be-true guys, which is that he asked permission before every physical move he made on Sam.
Evaluation: This story has lots of tension, good pacing, and is plenty scary, although there is nothing supernatural going on. It’s definitely a page turner.
Note: A number of reviews mention that the reviewer saw the ending coming. I never did. I may be the dumbest reader on the planet, but perhaps because of that, I was totally immersed in the story and raced to the end.
Published by Hyperion, a division of Hachette Book Group, 2014