Rememberby Eileen Cook
A thrilling tale about how far a girl will go to get back a memory she lost…or remove what she wants to forget.
Harper is used to her family being hounded by protestors. Her father runs the company that trademarked the “Memtex” procedure that wipes away sad memories, and plenty of people think it shouldn’t be legal. Then a new demonstrator
A thrilling tale about how far a girl will go to get back a memory she lost…or remove what she wants to forget.
Harper is used to her family being hounded by protestors. Her father runs the company that trademarked the “Memtex” procedure that wipes away sad memories, and plenty of people think it shouldn’t be legal. Then a new demonstrator crosses her path, Neil, who’s as persistent as he is hot. Not that Harper’s noticing, since she already has a boyfriend.
When Harper suffers a loss, she’s shocked her father won’t allow her to get the treatment, so she finds a way to get it without his approval. Soon afterward, she’s plagued with strange symptoms, including hallucinations of a woman who is somehow both a stranger, yet incredibly familiar. Harper begins to wonder if she is delusional, or if these are somehow memories.
Together with Neil, who insists he has his own reasons for seeking answers about the real dangers of Memtex, Harper begins her search for the truth. What she finds could uproot all she’s ever believed about her life…
Gr 9 Up—After a tragedy leaves Harper Byrne depressed and lacking in her characteristic optimism, she sneaks into her father's hospital and gets a controversial memory-altering procedure called Memtex. When inexplicable memories arise and strange side effects occur, Harper goes on a quest, with the help of a mysterious social activist named Neil, to uncover secrets about her past and her father's research that could change her life forever. Cook adeptly addresses complicated relationship issues in this YA novel. Unfortunately, the protagonist is forgettable. Her spunky attitude and sense of humor barely redeem her bland flatness. Best friend Win is far more developed and interesting, and thankfully plays a big part throughout the story. Harper's relationship with Josh, her boyfriend of two years, also takes up much of the plot. Josh has a better relationship with Harper's father than she does, because of his passion for science and medicine. While teens looking for a good mystery could find a lot to like in Remember, the lack of character development, messy pacing, and predictable story line fail to create the necessary emotional tension.—Eden Rassette, Kenton County Public Library, KY
After suffering a major loss, one girl utilizes her father's new memory-erasing technology to ease the pain only to spiral down a rabbit hole of shocking family secrets.Harper has it all: a devoted boyfriend, a prizewinning horse and a rich father who's created Memtex, a medical treatment that "softens" traumatic memories. But when a sudden loss rocks her perfect world, she finds herself unable to get past it. She asks her father for the Memtex treatment, but he forbids it with an eerie adamancy. Harper enlists Josh, her boyfriend and an intern at her father's company, to help her get the treatment she thinks she needs. And though the pain vanishes just as promised, a dark new puzzle presents itself to Harper in its place, and the truth hidden within it turns everything she knows on its head. Cook populates Harper's charmed life with a few dynamic characters, like her sharp best friend, Win, and her Memtex protestor-turned-alternative love interest, Neil. However, Harper reads as self-involved as her suspicious father does, leaving little room for readers to root for her. Much time is spent arguing over her relationship with Josh, though she isn't keen on him from the beginning. The pace crawls until the ending arrives in a rush. A rehash of the memory-loss trope weighed down by too little action and an unengaging protagonist. (Science fiction. 14-18)
Read an Excerpt
It’s not clear if Saint Thomas More had murder on his mind when he fell from his alcove in the north stairwell and onto my friend Win. It’s far more likely that over the years the vibration of hundreds of high school students thundering up and down the stairs finally shook him free. The statue did a huge swan dive that would have made an Olympian proud and clipped Win right over her eyebrow. She caught him, saving the statue from crashing to the floor. It can be hard to help someone see the bright side of things when they are nearly taken out by a religious icon.
“Sod it all, I’m bleeding.” Win looked at her face in the mirror above the nurse’s sink. When Win was really ticked, she sounded even more like her British-born mom.
I handed Win a wet paper towel. “Look on the bright side—saving a saint is going to earn you some valuable karma points.”
“Harper, I’m not Catholic.” Win winced as she pressed the towel to her forehead. “And it’s not like I had a choice; the stupid thing basically fell into my arms. If it had been up any higher, it probably would have killed me.”
“I can’t see Tom holding your lack of religion against you.” I leaned over and patted the plaster statue of the saint on the head as he sat innocently on the floor. Our school, Saint Francis, was one of the highest ranked in Washington State. This meant the student body was made up of people who wanted their kids to have a religious education and also those who didn’t mind forcing their kids to wear the most hideous mustard-yellow and navy-blue uniforms ever created as long as they went to a good school. “Having a saint who owes you one is nothing to sneer at. You could club a seal or something and it still wouldn’t be enough to land you eternal damnation.”
“Stop trying to find the silver lining in every situation.” Win squinted at her reflection. “Look at that: It’s going to leave a scar. That’s it. I’m disfigured.”
“You’re fine. The nurse doesn’t even think you need stitches.”
“She’s a school nurse. Do you really think I’m going to leave the destiny of this face in her hands?” Win continued her self-inspection. Only she could get clocked by a statue and still look great. It would be annoying if she weren’t my best friend.
“Fair enough. But we got out of going to chemistry; you have to admit that counts as good luck,” I pointed out.
“Seems to me you’re the lucky one. You weren’t nearly decapitated and you still got out of class.”
The nurse bustled back into the room. She handed Win an ice pack. “You’ll want to keep this on to reduce the swelling.”
Win blinked. “Ice. Don’t you think I should have a CT scan or something? I could have brain damage.”
“You’d want an MRI,” I said. “CT is more for orthopedic injuries.”
Win shot me a look.
“It basically grazed you. The only part of the statue that hit you was the hand.” The nurse pointed, and I saw that Saint Thomas More had lost a finger in the accident. It looked like his blessing days were over. I wondered if the finger would count as a holy relic if someone found it on the stairs. The nurse yanked a folder out of her desk. “You’ll be fine. Just keep the ice on there.” She scribbled something in the file and then glanced up at the clock. “You two are free to go. If you hustle, you won’t be late for Friday assembly.”
We were barely out of the door before Win said, in a voice loud enough to carry to the nurse, “If I die of a brain aneurysm, my dad will sue this place.”
“Getting hit on the head won’t give you an aneurysm,” I pointed out as we moved down the hall. “They’re usually caused by a weakness in the artery since birth. High blood pressure could cause one too.”
“Having you as a friend is like having my own personal WebMD. Handy and terrifying all at the same time,” Win said.
“You’re welcome.” Having a neuroscientist as a dad made me more knowledgeable on brain function than the average high school senior. It also meant that I was more likely to kick the bell curve’s ass in anatomy.
We were among the last people to get to the auditorium, but the assembly hadn’t started yet. My boyfriend, Josh, yelled out my name and waved us over.
I tugged on Win’s arm. “He saved us seats.” We moved down the row and plopped into our chairs. Josh squeezed my hand and I fought the urge to pull mine back. Josh was only happy when we were constantly touching.
“Heard God tried to take you down.” Josh motioned toward the Band-Aid on Win’s forehead.
“Ha-ha. Maybe as official class president you should figure out if any other parts of the building plan to crush a student. I’m no lawyer, but that seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
Josh saluted. “I’ll get on that on at our next council meeting.”
“It could have been worse—what if it had been that statue of Saint Sebastian in the cafeteria, the one with all the arrows? You would have lost an eye,” I said.
“Thank you, Mary Poppins.” Win grabbed gum out of her bag and offered it to the both of us before jamming a piece in her mouth.
“It wouldn’t kill you to see the positive side,” Josh said.
“It might. Besides, that’s why I keep her around.” Win chomped on her gum with a smile.
We were unlikely friends. People called us yin and yang. She was half black; I was pasty white. I got nearly straight As, and she was happy with Cs. Win was the ultimate social butterfly, and I tended to be shy. Win vowed she wasn’t going to be bothered with a relationship until she was at least forty, and I’d dated Josh for two years already. I always looked for the positive, and she had honed being cynical to an art form. There was no reason for us to get along, but we did.
Our principal, Mr. Lee, was on the stage waiting for everyone to pay attention. He did this sort of Zen thing where he would stand in silence with his eyes closed until we all shut up. You wouldn’t think it would work, but it did.
“There’s your dad,” Josh whispered.
I followed his finger. My dad stood at the side of the stage, fussing with his tie. He almost never wore one. At work he got away with jeans, T-shirt, and lab coat. There are some benefits to owning your own company. Other than wealth and not having a boss, that is. I shifted in my seat. My dad liked to be goofy, which was bad enough at home, but I had no idea what he might pull at my school. I sent up a silent prayer that he didn’t do one of his impressions.
“What’s he doing here?” Win asked.
Saint Francis had a mandatory assembly every Friday with various speakers. The school promoted it as a chance for us to gather as a “community.” “Community” sounded better than what we suspected, which was that the teachers liked having the last hour of the week free.
“He agreed to do a talk on the importance of science,” I said.
Win pretended to snore.
“How can you say that? Science impacts everything,” Josh said.
Win held up a hand. “Spare me. I’m going to have to hear the talk from her dad; I don’t need to hear it from you, too.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Also, for the record, having a bromance with your girlfriend’s dad is creepy.”
Josh was ready to argue with her, but Mr. Lee was already introducing my dad, so we had to be quiet.
I’d heard Dad’s science talk before. It was fairly interesting. He managed to connect all these major scientists like Darwin and Einstein to random things like punk rock and winning World War II. My prayer must have worked, because so far he’d managed to avoid doing any of his lame Dad stand-up comedy routine.
“Now, some of you know that my company, Neurotech, recently received approval from the FDA to offer our revolutionary Memtex treatment to teens and children.” Dad stood with a Neurotech logo projected onto him and the screen behind him.
“Holy shit, we can go for a softening now?” someone hissed a few rows behind me.
I turned around to hear who had said that. My dad hated when people called it a softening. He thought it sounded too woo-woo. He was not a fan of anything that smacked of being new age.
“I thought you guys might like to be the first group to see our new commercial. Sort of like a movie screening, only without the hot movie stars—unless you count me.” A few people laughed. It’s a well-accepted truth that everyone else will find your parent’s feeble attempts at humor funnier than you will. My dad spotted me in the crowd and waved. I scrunched further down in my seat.
The auditorium lights dimmed, and my dad stepped out of the glare of the projector. The commercial was well done. It showed a bunch of perfectly airbrushed teens in what adults must think of as ideal moments: dancing at a prom, laughing with friends over a bonfire on the beach, crossing the finish line at a track meet. No one had acne or bad hair. I recognized the main actress from some cable show.
“Are bad memories holding you back from doing everything you want and enjoying the life you deserve?” she asked. Her eyes stared out of the screen as if she personally felt bad for us. “You don’t have to be bogged down anymore. Ask your doctor about Memtex today—and imagine what you could accomplish tomorrow!” Her face split into a wide smile and just a hint of a wink.
The lights went up, and people applauded as if it had been an Oscar-winning performance. I wondered if Mr. Lee was ticked that my dad had managed to sneak a commercial into his talk. I could have told him he should have known better; my dad never missed a chance to promote his business. Once he slipped our dentist a brochure in the middle of a root canal.
“Well, thanks for having me today and letting me share with you why I find science so important, and how I think it can impact your life. I’m excited to have Neurotech providing services to teens. To mark that evolution in our company, I’m pleased to announce we’ll be offering a part-time internship for a deserving high school student with a passion for the sciences. Applications are available on our website. At the end of the year the lucky recipient will also receive a grant to assist with college costs.”
Josh jolted straight up in the chair next to me, vibrating with excitement. I couldn’t believe my dad hadn’t said a thing about this to me. He winked at me from the stage. That made me wonder what other surprises he had up his sleeve.
Meet the Author
Eileen Cook spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. She is the author of The Almost Truth, Unraveling Isobel, The Education of Hailey Kendrick, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, and What Would Emma Do? as well as the Fourth Grade Fairy series. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and dogs. Visit her at EileenCook.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Remember was such a breathe of fresh air. A lot of people are writing dystopian or post-apocalyptic books and Eileen Cook is over there writing psychological thrillers. Go, Eileen! The book is about Harper and her fathers brilliant medical breakthrough called Memtex. It is supposed to help dull really tragic memories and make it so you can move on with your life. You will still have the memory but it won't be crippling. I felt like this treatment was so wrong on so many levels. I think it would be GREAT to help people coming home from war who has PTSD and such but the fact that it was being offered to teens was wrong. I feel like if people get this treatment then they are taking the easy way out. Life isn't all rainbows and unicorns and a lot of people need to grow a pair and face life and move on. But if something like this actually did exist I know millions would get it done. Your past and memories are what make you who you are. If I could get back lost memories I would do it in a heartbeat. But I don't think I would even dull them. I loved Harper! At first she was this really positive, sweet person but once everything starts to go down she becomes this headstrong young woman who wants to right the wrongs her father created. She also stopped living life so cautiously. I felt that she was with Josh only because they had been together for so long. That is definitely not a reason to stay in a relationship. I didn't like Josh at all. I got the feeling he was only with Harper to get close to her dad. And towards the end Josh has this little hissy fit where he pretty much proved my feelings about him were very valid. He did help Harper a few times but every time he did help her it seemed to only be for validation and acceptance from her father. Win was a pretty awesome character. She did have a little bit of an issue with wanting her problems to be more important that others. I know in a friendship you are supposed to be able to share stuff and Harper felt that Win wouldn't understand and she kind of didn't. Win had some issues going on in her life but she wanted HER issues to be put first it felt like. I had trouble predicting what was going to happen and I loved that. I kept thinking either Harper had accidentally push Robyn or her father had done something terrible. I was pretty surprised to find out it was neither of those things. But what did come to light was pretty shocking. The ending got a little scary. Especially when Harper's father did what he did to her. I was yelling at the book and freaking out because Harper needed to keep her memories and her father was trying to hide so much that he would actually risk his daughters life to make sure nothing got out. And then Josh just STOOD there. He did end up helping but he was still on Harper's fathers side until this happened and that proved how desperate he truly was. Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.