Remember Me This Way
Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books, May 2015
From the publisher: One year after her husband Zach’s death, Lizzie Carter, 41 years old, goes to lay flowers on the site of his fatal accident. Since the tragedy, she just hasn’t been the same, racked with grief and guilt and regret and . . . relief. Even though her friends tell her she’s grieved enough for her ‘prince charming,’ her memories of a darker side of Zach that no one else knew are burned into her brain and won’t let her forget him. But as she puts her flowers down at the roadside, she sees a bouquet of lilies at the foot of the tree. Addressed to her husband. She isn’t the first to pay her respects . . . but who is Xenia? As Lizzie learns more about her husband’s past, she begins to realize that maybe she didn’t know Zach at all. But she’s still tormented by her guilt and the memories that just won’t fade . . . because Zach doesn’t seem to be as gone as everyone thinks. And she just can’t shake the feeling that he’s still out there, watching her, waiting to claim her as his own once again. After all, just because we love someone doesn’t mean we can trust them . . . .
Lizzie does psychometric testing for a living; Zach is an artist, although a not-yet-successful one. The p.o.v. alternates between that of Zach (the first page is his, and though only one page long [before the narration switches to Lizzie’s], it is quite startling, letting the reader know at once what he/she is in for. Lizzie’s p.o.v. sections take place initially in February 14, 2013, a year to the day of Zach’s car crash, on a Cornish roadside in the middle of Cornwall and 200 miles from her home in London. She thinks to herself “His death feels real for the first time. I must let him go, hard as it is, because, despite everything, he was the love of my life.” The next section, Zach’s, takes place in July, 2009. As opposed to Lizzie’s thoughts as described above, he is thinking “She doesn’t appreciate me, that’s the problem.”
All the following alternating p.o.v. sections follow those same timelines [Zach’s last ending on the day of his car crash], wherein initially Zach has a significant other named Charlotte, overlapping with his meeting and becoming involved with Lizzie. All who meet Zach, who is pretty much addicted to Xanax and tramadol, see him as a very handsome and charming man, although he is self-described as being “not very nice” [with which the reader wholeheartedly agrees], and “. . . People like me can’t relax. We may roam outside the boundaries that restrict the behavior of other people, but we’re never free.”
The characters all come alive in these pages, but Zach is one of a kind, displaying love, jealousy, and vengeance, among other traits. The ending is shocking, but thoroughly believable. This is a book, and characters, who will stay with the reader after the last page is read, and it is highly recommended.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, March 2016.