Thursday, November 3, 2011

Alice's Review: Remembering You

Summary:  35-year-old Ava Andrews' dream job is interrupted by an unusual request, fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather's last wish by joining him on a battle site tour of Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request. But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own, to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces.

As if juggling these two things isn't hard enough, Ava is soon surprised again ... twice. First, Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own. Then, while they're on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love.

Before she knows it, Ava and Dennis are swept down memory lane as they visit the sites that are discussed in the history books. And even though Ava's videotaping old soldiers, she can see their youth, their hopes and fears, and their pride in their eyes. Soon Ava learns the trip isn't just for them ... it's for her too, especially for her heart.

Review:  Remembering You is a sweet and powerful story about a woman’s journey through remembrance of her grandfather’s World War II experience. I am a bit of a World War II buff. I love reading stories, fact or fictional, set during that time. What starts as a way to get closer to her grandfather while resurrecting her career, becomes a journey of love and the rekindling of faith for Ava.

I enjoyed this novel very much. The highlights for me are Grandpa Jack and Grand-Paul. I believe Ms. Goyer did an excellent job in embracing both characters in a very realistic way. They could be anyone’s grandfather. A part of me wishes they were mine. I enjoyed their camaraderie, it was very believable. I loved that their friendship stood the test of time and distance. There was a bit of humor in Grand-Paul. Of the two, he was the one with more spunk while Grandpa Jack was the more thoughtful one.

I enjoyed the journey the four main characters, Ava and her Grandpa Jack along with Grand-Paul and his grandson Dennis, who just so happened to be Ava’s first love. I got a real sense of the emotion building between the grandfathers especially during their travel from Paris to the Concentration Camp in Mauthausen, Austria. Ms. Goyer interviewed countless Veterans of WWII and her research shows. There is an authentic feel to her writing. There were times I had to remind myself this was fiction.

Sadly the lowlights of Remembering You were Ava and Dennis. I thoroughly enjoyed their backstory and the hint of a possible romance. What I did not enjoy were the characters themselves. In the beginning, Ava was too self-centered and a bit whiney. Dennis was a little too self-righteous for my taste. I don’t want to seem too harsh with them, both had redeeming factors that made me root for them in the end.

Ms. Goyer is an incredibly gifted writer. There were quite a few morsels of goodness in this novel. My favorite was this:
“Ava could picture that. She felt the same way. Not looking back because of the pain. Afraid to look ahead. Maybe she was just watching her feet too.”

I think that captured the essence of who Ava was at the moment her journey started. I could relate to it because I’m just watching my feel. The hope of this novel is that Ava does begin to look ahead. And what a journey it is.

Final Take: 4/5
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