The Forgetting Time

The Forgetting Time

4.0 5
by Sharon Guskin

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“What if what you did mattered more because life happened again and again, consequences unfolding across decades and continents?…A relentlessly paced page-turner and a profound meditation on the meaning of life.”
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Train



“What if what you did mattered more because life happened again and again, consequences unfolding across decades and continents?…A relentlessly paced page-turner and a profound meditation on the meaning of life.”
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Train

What happens to us after we die? What happens before we are born? At once a riveting mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, The Forgetting Time will lead you to reevaluate everything you believe…

What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother?

Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious—mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it.

Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years. When that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Gorgeously written and fearlessly provocative, Sharon Guskin’s debut explores the lengths we will go for our children. It examines what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Chelsea Cain
…a gripping, deft and moving mystery.
From the Publisher

“Gripping, deft, and moving.”
—Chelsea Cain, The New York Times Book Review

“I love this book. It is absolutely spectacular. It’s a page-turner but also incredibly thought provoking. It left me completely changed—and isn't that why we all read in first place? The Forgetting Time is a book you'll want to talk about with all of your friends.”
—Octavia Spencer, Academy Award-winning actress

"Bold, captivating...Guskin amps up the suspense while raising provocative questions about the maternal bond and its limits...You'll be mesmerized."
People (Book of the Week)

"For fans of Cloud Atlas and The Lovely Bones, this psychological mystery will have you hooked until the case is closed—or is it?"

“If you took to Lovely Bones, you'll be completely engrossed by Guskin's mystery, which meticulously weaves together a web of sympathetic, multi-dimensional characters through alternating chapters…Plenty of fodder for your next book club.”
InStyle (6 Books to Read this Month)

“Tender…provocative…wholly original…Guskin adroitly maintains the pace of her mystery plot…You’ll come away moved by this affecting tale of maternal love and the unbreakable cords of memory.”

“There’s much to consider in this provocative debut novel—from cultural differences in attitudes toward life and death to the question of whether or not parents can ever truly know their own children. More than anything, The Forgetting Time is a passionate entreaty to readers to embrace the present moment, to find joy, comfort and connection in the here and now.”

“A captivating, thought-provoking novel that explores what we regret in the end of our lives, hope for in the beginning and everything in-between…The Forgetting Time marks the debut of a major new talent.”

“Sharon Guskin has burst onto the literary scene like an exploding star…Without doubt The Forgetting Time is the most enthralling debut novel of the year.”
New York Journal of Books

“An incredible Russian doll of a novel. Beginning as a seemingly ordinary story of maternal struggle, it soon unfurls into a fascinating tour of reincarnation, a compelling murder mystery, and an examination of the familial bond. Like Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, at its core it really is just superb fiction.”
The Herald

“Provocative and suspenseful…Guskin portrays [Janie and Anderson] with immense empathy.”
— (10 Books to Read in February)

“Engaging and riveting. It will make you think about what really matters and how best to spend the time we have.”
Vancouver Sun

“A great read—Guskin combines a thought-provoking idea with a well-written and compelling story that ensures readers will stay with it, whether or not they believe that souls live on after death. This novel is both engaging and riveting. It will make you think about what really matters and how best to spend the time we have.”
Windsor Star

“Readers will be galvanized by Guskin’s sharply realized and sympathetic characters with all their complications, contradictions, failures, sorrows, and hope. Deftly braiding together suspense, family drama, and keen insights into the workings of the brain, Guskin poses key and unsettling questions about love and memory, life and death, belief and fact. A novel that bridges the fuzzy categories of ‘literary’ and ‘commercial,’ The Forgetting Time offers a vast spectrum of significant and nuanced topics that will catalyze probing discussions.”
Booklist (starred review)

“When I wasn't reading The Forgetting Time, I was itching to return to it. And when I was reading it, my mind was exploding with questions about what's possible, what's probable, and how our lives are caught between the two. Provocative, evocative, and fresh, Guskin's book is an explosive debut.”
—Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time

“Sharon Guskin's debut is the literary equivalent of the sensation you get when, after stargazing from some hillside on a clear night, you're suddenly hit with the terrifying and exhilarating scope of the unknowable. A truly remarkable, dizzying and exquisite page-turner.”
—Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger's Wife

“What if what you did mattered more because life happened again and again, consequences unfolding across decades and continents? This question is at the heart of Sharon Guskin's luminous novel. The Forgetting Time is about memory and forgetting, grieving and letting go, and the lengths a mother will go to for her child. It is both a relentlessly paced page-turner and a profound meditation on the meaning of life.”
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Train

The Forgetting Time is a magical, wise, page-turner of a novel that brings to mind the early work of Alice Hoffman. I absolutely loved it. A very moving, soulful, and beautifully-made debut.”
—Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Devotion

“A spellbinding ride. Guskin's beautifully rendered and wonderfully told novel explores the mysteries of how we connect to one another in the deepest of ways. What an amazing book.”
—Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace

“Sharon Guskin has written a novel that's meticulously crafted without ever losing the heart and soul of the story. It's both a beautiful tale of the bond between a mother and her young son as well as a gripping mystery that asks that universal human question 'were we here before?' Reading The Forgetting Time becomes a personal journey as you try to remember all that you've forgotten.”
—Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Sister

The Forgetting Time is skillfully written and the story is terrific, beguiling, heartbreaking and droll by turns. I’m listening to it on CD, and I’ve sat in the car for forty minutes, with ice cream melting in the grocery bags, so I didn’t have to leave its world.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard

Library Journal
Even as crisis rocks unsettled four-year-old Noah and his single mother, Janie, once-promising academic Jerome Anderson receives a diagnosis that shuts down his future. Further revelation comes when all three meet a mother whose son has long been missing. A Publishers Lunch buzz book with rights sold to ten countries; big library promotion, too.
Kirkus Reviews
A single mom confronts the possibility that her troubled 4-year-old is the reincarnated spirit of a murdered child. Thirty-nine-year-old Janie Zimmerman becomes pregnant after an interlude with a stranger while on vacation in Trinidad. Four years later, her son, Noah, is kicked out of preschool because he's talking about guns, drowning, and the scary parts of the Harry Potter books. He constantly asks Janie if he can go home now and if his other mother is coming soon; he absolutely refuses to take a bath. Attempts to address this situation by visiting psychiatrists and specialists result only in draining Janie's savings and in a tentative diagnosis of early-onset schizophrenia. In her desperation, she gets out a bottle of bourbon and Googles the words "help" and "another life." She ends up watching a documentary featuring Dr. Jerome Anderson, "who for many decades has been studying young children who seem to recall details from previous lives." But Anderson is having troubles of his own. Still staggering from the death of his wife one year earlier, he's been diagnosed with aphasia, a form of dementia that involves the gradual loss of language. Though his work has been jeered at by the scientific community, he's now written a book for the general public which has been accepted for publication by "one of the top editors in the field," who requires only that he add one more compelling case history. His phone call from Janie Zimmerman will provide that opportunity, but will his mental faculties hold out long enough for the threesome to solve the mystery of Noah's past? The novel includes many excerpts from a real book called Life Before Life: Children's Memories of Previous Lives by Jim Tucker—these describe real-life cases of apparently transferred memories. Guskin's debut novel tells a sentimental story with a murder mystery at its core, and it's interesting even if you don't go for the premise.

Product Details

Flatiron Books
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.30(d)

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Meet the Author

SHARON GUSKIN lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons. The Forgetting Time is her first novel.

David Pittu is a two-time Tony nominee, and has narrated over 36 audiobooks, including Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which earned an Audie for literary fiction and best male narrator. His other work includes The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and An American Spy by Olen Steinhauer. Pittu has also read for Rick Riordan, Ann Rice, and Keigo Higashino, among others.

Well-known for his work in theater, Pittu has appeared off-Broadway in LoveMusik and Is He Dead, for which he received his Tony nominations, as well as Parade, for which he earned a National Broadway Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He is also a writer, member, and director of the Atlantic Theater company. He lives in New York City.

Susan Bennett is known for her radio and television voiceover work. She has narrated a host of audiobooks, including those from bestselling authors Peggy Post, Linda Francis Lee, Dorothea Benton Frank, Emma McLaughlin, and Nicola Kraus. Her reading of Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso won an AudioFile Earphones Award. In describing Susan’s reading style, Publishers Weekly has said, “Bennett's narration is excellent: she draws the listener into the story... keeping the pacing brisk and entertaining.” Susan also dabbles in the music industry as the singer and keyboardist for The Interactive! Band. Along with her guitarist husband, Rick Hinkle, Bennett is the co-owner of Audiocam Music, a full service recording studio.

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The Forgetting Time 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The premise of the book is really interesting but there is very little action. Most of the book is about what the characters are thinking. Each time someone new is introduced she goes into a long description of their background or lengthy essays of how everyone is feeling and what it all means. I skimmed through a lot of it.
jeanniezelos More than 1 year ago
The Forgetting Time,  Sharon Guskin Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre:  General Fiction (Adult) The description of this intrigued me. I can recall as a young child being a fervent believer in some form of reincarnation, though of course I didn’t know the term. As I grew older I became less certain, but there’s always that thread in my mind that there must be more to life than just this time we have, and I’m not really a subscriber to the heaven and hell theory, so I have a kind of amorphous belief that we become something “ other” after death, whether that's here or in some kind of parallel universe...  Anyway poor Janie, adores her son Noah but he’s getting more and more difficult to deal with. He’s only four but sometimes he says things far above that age, his nightmares are terrifying and it must be really upsetting for them both when he pushes her away and screams for his real mum, though its clear he adores her too and sees her as his mum – he calls her Mommy-mom. The water fear too – he won’t wash, has a real terror of water and wipes only go so far so that’s causing issues. Janie’s terrified someone, his nursery or someone they just bump into will notice his sour smell and report her for neglect. She hasn’t anyone else, no other family, its just her and Noah, and he’s her life.   It all comes to a head, she’s exhausted, her business is going down as Noah’s issues get worse, she’s at the end of the experts she’s seen, the money is running out and Noah, poor, poor Noah is more and more distressed by his desperation for his real mum and his terrible nightmares. The only suggestions are medication, and who wants to do that to a four year old? Then she meets Dr Anderson. He’s spent his life on studies of children like Noah, but he’s now ill and isn’t sure he has the energy to follow up yet another case that may turn out to be nothing. Janie’s desperation though coincided with a reason for him to look further, and thus the journey starts. Its a curious read in some ways, a fiction that at times feels like a non-fiction story, very different to what I usually pick up and yet it drew me in so quickly. I was lost in there in poor Janie’s despair, Noah’s terror and Dr Andersons sorrow and health issues. They’re a mixed trio, but through them we get a story that’s fascinating, told as it happens, and interspersed with snippets of cases and studies of real lives from non-fiction books. I found it really interesting to read, a ficticious story that felt very real. It made me remember the feelings I used to have about life after death – or what could happen anyway. As the story moves on its incredibly emotional at times, and had me sniffling at how tragic some parts were, how a spilt seconds action can have such wide ranging actions resulting from it, how so many people get affected by it. Its strange that in regression studies people always seem to recall being someone famous, and that makes so many of us sceptical but then maybe its not like that, just that those are the ones that get the publicity. Certainly there’s enough there for an element of reality to shine through. We’re all individuals and for me maybe that goes through to the next life, some come back, some move on. I don’t know, but it seems to me that in the same way medications for the same illnesses need to be tailored to individuals maybe that’s true of everything about us, that there isn’t a one size fits all afterlife but one that differs according to each
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was so compelling that I started waking up early just to get more reading time. I could not put it down. It was deliciously addictive. I literally learned to do all of my morning tasks with my Nook in hand. (My makeup was questionable but the extra few minutes reading was worth it.) It was such a refreshing read and I anxiously await Sharon Guskin's next book.