Dare To Remember is Susanna Beard's first novel and follows the story of Lisa Fulbrook. Following a brutal knife attack in her own home which left her seriously injured and her lifelong best friend dead, Lisa is left trying to put her life back together and hide the scars on her neck with scarves. However, it is the invisible scars deep within that cause her the most pain and suffering - survivor guilt, PTSD, fear and grief, as well as an inability to remember what actually went on on that ill-fated night.
The basic premise is both poignant and intriguing and I had high hopes for a powerful, gripping novel that drip-fed information to the reader as Lisa gradually got back her memory piece by piece. I was a bit disappointed though because I felt it dragged and nothing much happened for a large part of the novel, despite regular but seemingly ineffectual trips to a psychiatrist. I have no doubt that this is realistic - recovery from this kind of trauma is obviously going to be a long and slow process - but it doesn't make for a gripping novel and I felt it needed to be sped up somewhat.
I enjoyed seeing Lisa slowly opening up and building new relationships, both with her elderly neighbour and her new friend, but I felt that a lot of time was spent on developing these relationships that, ultimately, didn't go anywhere. I kept half expecting some big twist such as Lisa suddenly remembering something about her attacker that linked her to one of her new friends, but it never happened.
The idea of restorative justice - bringing victims and their aggressors face to face to offer some sense of closure - is intriguing and I woud have liked a bigger part of the novel to have focused on this as I felt that all of the potential wasn't exploited.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I really empathised with Lisa, but I do think it could have had more impact and suspense with a faster pace. It's more a poignant look at the consequences and recovery process from trauma than a nail-biting psychological thriller. I should also point out that I read this during a ten-hour series of airports and flights on the way to Norway, so I probably wasn't at my most receptive !
star rating : 3.5/5
RRP : £8.99
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.