Book Review: When I Forgot

When I Forgot by Elina Hirvonen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw this in a second hand bookshop and, liking the blurb, decided to buy it.

When I Forgot is a dark, contemporary story of only 180 pages. It’s written in a way that I found to be quite confusing at times, as it moved back and forth between time periods frequently and I became a bit lost. Yet the information being slowly fed to me was intriguing, which meant I had to keep reading to find out what was happening.

Anna is a young woman sitting in a café trying to read a book. Yet the content of the book brings memories of her childhood to mind. She spends the entire day lost in thought, remembering a childhood wrought with fear and distrust. She also remembers the day dreams she had to help keep herself sane – a child’s effort to hold on to hope. As her story unfolds the darkness shifts and it’s easy to relate to why a person wants to forget, why Anna chose to forget. But in forgetting the bad times she also forgot the good memories too, because rarely is life all bad.

This story is about mental illness, the effects of war and the perspective of a child who doesn’t fully understand what is happening to her family. It’s a story that clearly shows how one person’s actions can affect so many lives. It’s a story that shows that love can be so deeply buried you don’t know it’s there.

I could really relate to the theme, the emotions and the feeling of hopelessness. The author’s writing style, however, was not for me. The confusion I felt whilst reading was distracting and, in the end, irritating. I’m glad the book was short because I don’t think I could have dealt with it much longer, which is a shame, because if it had been written with a smoother style this would have been a very moving reading experience.

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