Saturday, July 24, 2021

Book Review: The Weight of Memory by Shawn Smucker

Title: The Weight of Memory
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: July 6th 2021
Print Length: 368 pages
Genre: Magical Realism
Memories are never truly forgotten.

They are simply waiting to be remembered.

When Paul Elias receives a terminal diagnosis, only one thing is clear to him: if he is going to die, he must find someone to watch over his granddaughter, Pearl, who has been in his charge since her drug-addicted father disappeared. Paul decides to take her to Nysa--both the place where he grew up and the place where he lost his beloved wife under strange circumstances forty years earlier.

Paul reconnects with an old friend but is not prepared for the onslaught of memory. And when Pearl starts vanishing at night and returning with increasingly bizarre tales, Paul begins to question her sanity, his own views on death, and the nature of reality itself.

In this mesmerizing story from award-winning author Shawn Smucker, past and present mingle like opposing breezes, teasing out the truth about life, death, and sacrifice.

After reading and loving Shawn Smucker's previous book, These Nameless Things, I was thrilled when I heard he had released his new book The Weight of Memory. After purchasing a copy, I devoured this book!

I enjoyed the way the story seemed to flow so effortlessly and so smoothly. Shawn Smucker did such an excellent job of conveying this story to his readers. It was as if he had painted such a beautiful canvas with his prose and invited us inside. Every word I read left me wanting more.

When I read the synopsis of the The Weight of Memory, it definitely had me intrigued. I had to know how Paul's 11 year old granddaughter, Pearl, knew things about Paul's past and where he grew up with even though Paul had never told her. When Paul and Pearl arrived in Nysa, the town where Paul grew up and had left 40 years prior, I had to know why people in the town were acting so strange and what was causing them to act that way. I kept trying to guess as to why, but I was always wrong. There are quite a few plot twists revealed towards the end of the book which I never would have guessed. Loose ends are all tied up excerpt for one which was left undone on purpose. Smucker leaves this up to the reader to decide what happened. Personally, I would have liked to know more, but I can see why the author left it for the reader to decide. One minor thing for me is I would have liked more about the townspeople of Nysa. They were all acting strange, and I would have liked to know more as to why besides just the drownings (not a spoiler). As for pacing, The Weight of Memory did start out a bit slow in the beginning, and I did find my mind wandering, but I persevered, and I was handsomely rewarded with such an enriching story once the pacing picked up.

For the most part, every character in The Weight of Memory felt fleshed out and realistic. Paul Elias was such a loveable character, and it was so obvious how much he loved and adored his granddaughter. I could feel his worry come off the pages though about how he needed to find someone to take care of Pearl before his death. It was heartbreaking to know that he was so worried about Pearl and what would happen to her after he was gone. I loved little Pearl, but most of the time, she came across as younger than her 11 years. To me, she acted more like a child of 6 than an older one. However, I did enjoy her character, and I admired how much she loved her "Grampy" and how she would do anything for her. Paul's and Pearl's relationship was very special, and it definitely showed throughout the story. I didn't know what to make of Tom throughout the book. He was always so distant. The author does make it known why though towards the end of the book. Tom did come across as a pretty selfless guy considering how rich he was which was refreshing. (Personally, I would have loved to stay at Tom's gigantic mansion!) As for Mary and Shirley, I enjoyed reading about them both. I would have liked to know more about Mary's home life personally due to one scene in the book. Regardless, Mary seemed like such a sweet girl, and Shirley seemed like she was a lot of fun.

Trigger warnings for The Weight of Memory include death, drowning, a few mentions of drugs (Pearl's father was a drug addict), and near death experiences.

All in all, The Weight of Memory is a beautifully enthralling story with loveable selfless characters and a plot that will keep you engrossed throughout. I would definitely recommend The Weight of Memory by Shawn Smucker to those aged 16+ who love their books to be heartfelt with a lot of emotion.

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