Don’t Forget Me by Victoria Stevens is a stunning debut novel that I devoured in a single (late-night) sitting, and it was worth every minute of sleep-deprived exhaustion the following day.
Seventeen-year-old Hazel Clarke is no stranger to heartbreaks, and being sent to live with a father she’s never met is the latest in a string of them. Even the beauty of eastern Australia isn’t enough to take her mind off her mother and the life she had to leave behind in England. But when Hazel meets the friendly, kindhearted Red and his elusive twin, Luca, she begins the slow process of piecing together a new life—and realizes she isn’t the only one struggling with loss. As friendships deepen and love finds its way in, Hazel also learns that when you truly love someone, they are always in your heart.
This sparkling debut novel is a touching testament to coming of age, falling in love, and finding home in unexpected places.
I love plots that revolve around a main character being uprooted and plopped into a new environment — and Stevens does that so well here in Don’t Forget Me, and it’s especially rewarding to read because she has such a fresh take on it – both in the setting and in the reasons for Hazel’s move.
The setting is a real winner here. Stevens’ writing made me feel like I was transported to eastern Australia, and I just loved seeing this new world of Hazel’s come to life. The beach, her room, her new town. It just seems so lovely.
And while the setting may have seduced me, it’s the characters — and their complex, multifacted lives — that really drew me in. As eager as I was to learn Hazel’s secrets an Luca’s secrets, I was equally captivated by her dad, her friend Red, and his parents. I wanted to get to know these characters better and spend more time in their world.
And of course I’m a sucker for a good coming of age story – and Don’t Forget Me isn’t just a good one, it’s a great one. The ending is far from tidy and neat, but it’s real and satisfying and shows that you can find happiness and love even in the midst of loss and sorrow.
I just adored this very lovely book. Look for it in stores on February 13th.
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