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From the author of Dear Evan Hansen, The Reminders is p erfect for fans of J. Courtney Sullivan's The Engagement or Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project, and follows what happens when a girl who can't forget befriends a man who's desperate to remember.
Grief-stricken over his partner Sydney's death, Gavin sets fire to every reminder in the couple's home before fleeing Los Angeles for New Jersey, where he hopes to find peace with the family of an old friend. Instead, he finds Joan.
Joan, the family's ten-year-old daughter, was born Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, or HSAM: the rare ability to recall every day of her life in cinematic detail. Joan has never met Gavin until now, but she did know his partner, and waiting inside her uncanny mind are startlingly vivid memories to prove it.
Gavin strikes a deal with Joan: in return for sharing her memories of Sydney, Gavin will help her win a songwriting contest she's convinced will make her unforgettable. The unlikely duo set off on their quest until Joan reveals unexpected details about Sydney's final months, forcing Gavin to question not only the purity of his past with Sydney but the course of his own immediate future.
Told in the alternating voices of these two irresistible characters, The Reminders is a hilarious and tender exploration of loss, memory, friendship, and renewal.
|Publisher:||Little, Brown and Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Val Emmich is a writer, a singer-songwriter and an actor who was called a "Renaissance Man" by the New York Post. He has had roles in many TV shows, including 30 Rock, Vinyl and Ugly Betty, and is the author of Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel, a book based on the hit Broadway show. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
What People are Saying About This
"An endearing and wise novel. I adored the unlikely friendship between a gifted child who remembers everything and a grieving man who is trying to forget. Emmich brings a compassionate, often comical, and always true eye to his storytelling. Ten-year-old Joan says a good song should either make you want to dance or cry, and The Reminders does both."
"In a story that is both startlingly original and deeply familiar, [Val Emmich] has given literature a remarkable young heroine, Joan, and a series of seemingly small events that add up to the kind of story small classics are made of. I could not stop reading, and was bereft when the story ended.
"Val Emmich has created an indelible cast of complex and quirky characters who drew me in for an emotional and humorous ride. THE REMINDERS is a book brimming with heart and soulyou really must read it!"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very original story, written in a lyrical style that is a joy to read. Love all the musical references and the fact that the storyline is never predictable.
The Reminders is the first novel by American actor and author, Val Emmich. At ten years old, Joan Lennon Sully is the youngest known person to have Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM). If it happened to her after about age five, she’ll remember it in intricate detail, including the day and date. So it can be annoying when others forget. And they do. Most heartbreaking was when her Grandma Joan (after whom she was named) forgot who Joan was. If Grandma Joan could forget, who’s to say her mom or dad couldn’t? Joan needs to find a way to stop that from happening. Popular cable actor Gavin Winter is broken: the love of his life has died, suddenly, unexpectedly, and he doesn’t think he can stand to see anything or be anywhere that reminds him of Sydney. In spectacularly drunken fashion, he accidentally sets fire to his house. Of course, the media jump on this: he needs to get away. His good friends Paige and Ollie invite him to stay in their guest room. When Gavin meets Joan, he discovers that she has crystal clear memories of the times Sydney visited, memories he doesn’t have, memories he’s not entirely sure he wants. Especially when he realises that Sydney has been lying to him. What a wonderful story Emmich gives his readers! His alternating narratives are easily distinguished, because he really nails the voice of a ten-year-old girl, capturing it perfectly. These differing perspectives offer a comprehensive picture of his marvellous and very appealing characters, their thoughts and their actions. The plot is original: while it soon becomes obvious that Gavin and Joan have something to offer each other, there are a few surprises to keep it interesting. As well as Joan’s charming illustrations and her delightful ten-year-old logic, there’s a bit of a mystery and plenty of humour, but also heartache and grief. Of course, memory, reminders and forgetting feature heavily, but Emmich also compares patience with procrastination and impulsiveness with decisiveness. This is a remarkable debut novel and it will be interesting to see what this talented man does next.
From the opening pages of The Reminders, little Joan Lennon Sully wraps you around her finger. Her stunning and awe-inspiring memory, precociousness, and seemingly never-ending curiosity draw the reader into her story. When Val Emmich combines Joan Lennon with grief-stricken and embattled Gavin Winters, music is made. Joan Lennon Sully has HSAM, a rare condition which allows her to have a perfect memory. Gavin Winters has just lost the love of his life and is now struggling to find meaning. When Gavin stays with Joan Lennon’s parents to find escape, the two begin a unique and memorable friendship, based in Joan’s memories of Sydney, Gavin’s lost partner, and their shared love of music. With these two characters, Emmich creates a spell-bounding narrative, where the reader feels a part of Gavin and Joan’s friendship. The overarching theme of music lends an especially poetic feel to the book and its message. The dual perspectives of Joan and Gavin allow for extremely detailed character development, making Joan and Gavin leap off the page. With the two, you feel Gavin’s grief and lost sense of purpose while feeling Joan’s ever-increasing confusion and fear of others forgetting. Truly creative and unique, The Reminders is a reminder in itself of the power of friendship and the strength of the human spirit.
Love it! Joyful, laugh out-loud relationship between a precocious 10-year old and a grieving man. I heard about the book, The Reminders by Val Emmich, when it was featured on NPR. The premise caught my attention and sounded intriguing. I enjoy books that focus on relationships between different generations. In this novel, Joan is a 10-year girl who has an autobiographical memory and Gavin is a friend of her parents who just suffered a devastating loss. The relationship that develops between these two characters is real, organic, and a pleasure to read. Joan is a precocious child who remembers everything in painful detail while Gavin is a grieving man who is seeking to forgot, or at least move past, his memories. The pace of the story was engaging and the novel was told in the alternating voices of Joan and Gavin. They each have their own focus, agenda, and story-lines, but the beauty of this book is how they come together to form a strong bond, learn from each other, love each other, accept a loss, and find understanding and peace. Another plus for the book is the numerous references to The Beatles as part of the underlying theme of creativity in art and music. The Reminders is not a difficult read. In fact, it is a great summer read. Even while dealing with topics of sadness (death, Alzheimer's, the struggles of a gay couple trying to start a family, sacrificing a dream because it is necessary for the good of others, etc.), this story is filled with plenty of joy, love, and laugh out loud moments. I highly recommend this book and am extremely grateful to NRP for introducing me to it.
Val Emmich’s The Reminders is a nugget of gold. Told in the alternating perspectives of a thirty-year-old actor reeling from loss, and a ten-year-old girl with the curious power of remembering, the singularity of the novel shines brightly. The novel follows Gavin Winters, a television star, who is devastated by the loss of his partner and best friend, Sydney. After disaster strikes, when a video of him burning all of his belonging in a backyard fire goes viral, Gavin leaves LA to stay with old friends in Jersey City. After his move, he finds himself enveloped into a song writing project with his friends’ ten-year-old daughter, Joan. Joan has a special gift which allows her to recall certain memories with perfect clarity, including those of Sydney. In exchange for his help with her song writing, Joan agrees to recall her memories of Sydney for Gavin. Through Gavin’s desire to remember, and Joan’s terror of being forgotten, the two forge an incredible bond. The novel is far reaching in its scope, uniting two seemingly disparate characters, while tugging at your heart and your curiosity. Emmich’s own life trajectory, as a musician, actor, and now novelist, shines throughout the book with authenticity, turning the novel into a love letter to the arts. Exploring relationships between old friends, soul mates, and unlikely partners, The Reminders shows us that sometimes it’s the people in life you notice the least who can show you the most.
If it's any indication of my feeling for Emmich's first novel, I read the last two chapters while walking the mile from the train station to my house, dodging dogs, cars, and cell-phone-glued pedestrians along the way. Sure, I could have waited until that evening to finish, but I was so propelled by the narrative at that point that there was no other choice. And what a narrative it is. It's no easy task to alternate between a ten-year-old girl and a jaded, mournful 30-something male, yet Emmich pulls it off with panache. Emmich's gift for voice and character is most on display with Joan, who is blessed (and sometimes cursed) with a condition known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. By developing this character (or maybe having the character pick him), Emmich took on a rather herculean task: he had to approximate the voice of a ten-year-old girl -- with all the uncertainties, misinterpretations, inquisitiveness, and silliness with which a child approaches to the world -- while also capturing the idiosyncrasies of a very rare condition. To put it simply, Emmich took on a character who was both limited by her own experience and limitless when it came to what she could mentally recall. I was particularly impressed with his restraint in this regard: for all of Joan's power in recalling the past, she often does not know how to interpret the very signals and images she can regurgitate. Emmich knows when to hold back, when to remind us (see what I did there?) that, for all this girl's virtuosity, she is still a ten-year-old child, wondering what the world is and what her role in it will be. I also very much appreciated some of the unexpected diversions the book took. A later chapter -- written entirely in the form of a television transcript -- includes some hilarious satirical moments that skewer celebrity culture and the conventions of daytime talk shows. This chapter not only provide a reprieve from the alternating point of view framework established by the novel up to this point; it also allows Emmich to develop one of the more important climaxes in the novel. Similarly, despite the novel's traditional realism, Emmich incorporates a surprising moment of almost magical realism in a late chapter, a scene only equalled in beauty and grace by the concluding pages of the novel. Only when one finishes the book can one appreciate the power of the theme of memory here. It imbues almost everything in the novel. The adult characters of the novel are bound by their memories of each other and their desire to sustain those binds. Joan, of course, is blessed and cursed with this gift of memory, and as a result, she cannot abide how much others' memories (especially of her) are sieves, with only fragments that remain. Joan rejects the rest of the world's seemingly cruel way of letting the past fade into nothingness. In a similar vein, one of Gavin's first reactions to the loss of his lover can be seen as a rage against how quickly presence becomes absence, how rapidly a body becomes nothing but memory, how terrifyingly a something becomes a nothing. Ultimately, the novel asserts art's status as a bulwark against forgetting, for songs and books and drawings make something out of nothing. In doing so, Emmich's characters will be long remembered by this reader.
There are very few books that have made me cry. This book touched a place within me and made me truly feel. Part mystery, part love story, part coming of age; I didn't want it to end. I fell in love with Joan, an old soul with a spitfire personality, and the friendship between Gavin and Joan. Connections come in all forms and at all ages and the connection between these two stayed with me. The author made me love these characters and I didn't want the book to end.
This was an interesting read. Joan, an eleven year old girl, has a special power. She can recall memories, the date, and the weekday from everything she has lived through since she was about 5 years old. I had heard of this special? power while watching an interview with Marilu Henner on a talk show. As a matter of fact, she is mentioned in the acknowledgements. This helped with the believability, for me, in the story and added to my enjoyment. Joan is a huge part of this story, together with her mom and dad and an old family friend, Gavin Winters. Music is also a huge part of this story. I enjoyed spending time with Joan and the other characters while also feeling a little sorry for the eleven year old girl. The author did a great job in writing about her special power and showing the reader that maybe it's not all that special. Thanks to Little, Brown and Company for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.