I received Dare To Remember in exchange for an honest review
Dare To Remember is an interesting, well-written debut, but I’d recommend you don’t go into this expecting the fast-paced thriller that the blurb suggests. It didn’t exactly set the world alight, but it is a good, slow-burning psychological drama and a character study.
The story follows a couple of years in the life of Lisa Fullbrook, opening immediately after a brutal attack. Lisa and her best friend, Ali, were attacked in their own flat, and Lisa wakes up groggily in hospital – she’s the only survivor. Shaken by the loss of her friend and haunted by survivor’s guilt, Lisa moves out of the city to a small village, where she lives a reclusive life trying to work through her trauma.
The problem is, Lisa can only remember fragments of the night of the attack, and she’s convinced there’s something crucial alluding her. Something which would explain the overwhelming feeling of guilt that haunts her. As well as being traumatised, afraid of men and crowds and generally anything which involves her leaving her house, Lisa is crippled with guilt at the loss of her friend, so much she can’t face the funeral or seeing any previous mutual friends.
The mystery lies in recovering Lisa’s lost memories, but as the story progresses it becomes much less about uncovering what happened that night and much more about how Lisa is able to rebuild her life. Although she does her best to hide from the world, she does forge new friendships and, through them, she gains more perspective on her own issues, until finally she’s able to face them head-on through regular therapy and restorative justice – a new system which allows victims to come face-to-face with their attackers.
At under 300 pages, this is a short novel but in some ways it felt longer. It’s written in a manner which feels quite distant at times which took me a while to adjust to, but the author still manages to get to the heart of a severe trauma. The plot is slow-moving, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it gives time for the characters and atmosphere to breathe, but it isn’t the fast-paced thriller it’s being marketed as. Instead, it’s a journey of survival and one woman’s battle against trauma – and at that, Susannah Beard has triumphed. An interesting, emotional read.