Remember Me Like This.
Booklist Reviews 2014 March #2
Four years after he disappeared, 16-year-old Justin Campbell is miraculously returned to his family after a flea-market vendor recognizes him from the ubiquitous missing-child posters that paper the town of Corpus Christi, Texas. In the years since he was kidnapped by a violent pedophile, his shattered family members have each found solitary ways of coping with his absence. His father, Eric, is involved in an extramarital affair; his mom, Laura, has spent hours volunteering at Marine Lab, caring for sick dolphins; and his brother, Griff, has isolated himself from friends, spending all his time skateboarding in the cracked pool of the half-razed Teepee Motel. They are stunned and overjoyed at Justin's return, but his reappearance also reveals the fragility of their wounded family at a time when they need all of their strength to help ease Justin's reentry. Debut novelist Johnston, a 5 under 35 honoree from the National Book Foundation and director of the creative-writing program at Harvard, has crafted a sensitive and frequently suspenseful portrait of a family struggling to heal in the aftermath of great trauma. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 March #1
Four years after being kidnapped, the Campbell's teenage son Justin is found alive and returned to them. The reunification of the family is only the beginning of their healing, as parents Eric and Laura and younger brother Griffin must not only reorder their lives and examine the ways in which their layers of grief and guilt pulled their family apart but also come to terms with the horrors Justin faced during his captivity. The story starts where other stories might end, bringing readers intimately into the Campbell family dynamics and giving incisive detail about how each member heals and works toward rebuilding bonds and traditions. This debut novel from Johnston, who has a previous multiple award-winning short story collection (Corpus Christi) under his belt, is an admirable achievement. Readers conditioned by police procedurals will find their expectations continually defied as characters refuse to follow a formulaic plot trajectory. VERDICT Despite the dark subject matter, this is ultimately an uplifting reading experience owing to the believable love and warmth of the family, with all their flaws and weaknesses. [See Prepub Alert, 11/22/13.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis[Page 82]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 March #5
In Johnston's strong debut, it's been four years since young son Justin disappeared, and during that time the Campbell family in southern Texas has been slowly crumbling under the strain of their grief. But when Justin, now a teenager, is miraculously returned and his abductor set to stand trial for his crimes, the entire family must join together and help him recover the years he has lost. His mother, Laura, who volunteers at a local aquarium studying dolphins, confronts her own sense of guilt and tries to regain her former lust for life. Her husband, Eric, who has found comfort in the arms of another woman, struggles to speak to his son while he plots revenge on the abductor. And Justin's younger brother, Griffin, is just trying to be a normal teen, more concerned with deciphering the signals of his tough-talking girlfriend, Fiona, than confronting psychic scars. As the police investigate the kidnapping and Justin's captor is released before the trial, the tension rises. From the travails of sudden celebrity to the knowledge that the kidnapper is free nearby, the family is tormented. The novel offers a melodrama that tries to sympathetically portray the devastating effects of loss on a family, even (or especially) when the lost are found. Johnston has a talent for drawing well-rounded characters, although verbal excess weighs down the novel's pace. In the end, this is a convincing and uplifting portrait of a family in crisis. (May)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC