Manage episode 358721664 series 2381791
Tommy Llewelyn’s got a problem. Every year on the fifth of January his life resets. No records, no belongings, no memories. No trace Tommy ever existed.
It’s a problem Tommy’s been enduring ever since he was born and the universe is showing no sign of letting up.
When Tommy meets Carey Price though, everything changes.
The universe still seems to be out to get him but Tommy’s finally got a reason to fight back. This time he’s going to be remembered.
How To Be Remembered is the debut novel from Journalist and podcaster Michael Thompson.
How To Be Remembered opens on the suburban life of the Palmer’s. They’re upwardly mobile in a fairly standard way. Some might even say forgettable. Everything’s going to plan until Elise gets pregnant. Their lives progress until little Tommy’s first birthday approaches and well… you know what happens next.
Tommy’s first reset sees him estranged from his family and entered into the foster system. From here his life is an uphill battle as he struggles to understand what is happening to him through the eyes of a child.
From the get go How To Be Remembered knows where the heartstrings are and isn’t afraid to tug them.
The character of Tommy is immediately endearing and sympathetic. Thompson gives us enough to care about him and want to see him succeed even as he battles with his own special groundhog scenario.
The thing with this book is that it would have been all too easy to set up a standard hero's quest on the road to Tommy overcoming his ‘condition’. There are plenty of signposts that point to this archetype; an adversary, a love interest, a goofy best friend. All reassuring you that things are going to be alright.
It’s almost like Thompson wants you to feel this familiar story shape even as he carefully foreshadows that Tommy is not going to have his romantic climax. Because remember, Tommy is destined to reset, no one will remember.
As we shuck off the weeds of narrative determinism the we are left to conclude that Tommy is not destined to be part of some grand story precisely because Tommy is something of a guide for existing outside of stories. Tommy must find a way to exist outside of the universe’s plans.
I think the point here is that Tommy’s condition has forced him out of the autopilot of modern life. Tommy can’t fall back on the ‘plans’ we see his birth parents making, he can’t fulfill the expectations or become the cliche. Tommy has to carve out something meaningful or risk having nothing at all.
I found How To Be Remembered a really poignant and affecting story. Even when I knew it was going in for the emotional kill it still got me (and I found myself more than a little moist in the ocular area).
The thing for me was whether or not I felt for Tommy (and at times he kinda lost me) I always felt for his situation and I truly wanted to believe in his mythology where best friends and lovers always end up back in each other's lives.
How To Be Remembered hits all the right emotional notes and is well paced, leaving me more than a little tired in the mornings after I told myself ‘just one more chapter’. This is definitely a book for the romantics and those of us looking for a life less ordinary.