Sharon Guskin’s debut novel is the tender story of a mother’s desperate struggle to heal her troubled child, artfully blended with an intriguing exploration of the world of the paranormal and the provocative question of whether consciousness can survive death.
When conventional therapy fails to alter or explain the disturbing behavior of her 4-year-old son, Noah, single mother Janie Zimmerman turns in despair to the Internet. There she discovers psychiatrist Jerome Anderson, whose unconventional research into the recall of prior lives has cost him respectability in his profession. Soon, their lives are linked in an effort to resolve Noah’s debilitating condition, a quest that takes them deep inside another family’s tragedy.
Though it’s wholly original, the tale of disappearance and death that lies at the core of The Forgetting Time summons the spirit of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Guskin adroitly maintains the pace of her mystery plot while simultaneously revealing the deepening emotional bonds between Janie and Noah and Anderson in a way that contrasts effectively with the novel’s more fantastic elements. She brings that same sensitivity to her portrayal of the grieving mother whose loss draws the trio to the climax of their quest.
Guskin acknowledges her debt to the work of a pair of real-life Jerome Andersons at the Division of Perceptual Studies of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, quoting striking case studies. Regardless of your skepticism or credulity about reincarnation, you’ll come away moved by this affecting tale of maternal love and the unbreakable cords of memory.