Unforgettable by Meryl Sawyer is a complex story with interesting characters and a lot of twists and turns. It’s not perfect, but it’s a page turner.
In an isolated area of the Hawaiian island Maui, Greg Braxton is training his dog, Dodger, in search and rescue. Dodger unexpectedly finds an unconscious young woman in a smashed car. Greg rescues the woman, noting that her hair, clothes, and makeup seem to be those of a cheap hooker. When the woman awakens, she has total amnesia – she doesn’t remember her name or any aspect of her life. Greg names her “Lucky” and takes her to a hospital, where she is diagnosed with permanent brain damage. From the hospital she is arrested – it seems that the car she was driving had been stolen from an island bigwig.
The good stuff in this novel is all about the relationship between Lucky and Greg. Sawyer has taken two characters of not stunning originality – the amnesiac woman and the bitter widower who is determined never to love again – and succeeded in bringing them to life. The relationship she puts them in has an unusual spin that’s truly fascinating. Lucky adores Greg. He is the only person in Lucky’s entire memory who has ever shown her any kindness – hey, he named her – and the bond she feels with him is powerful. More than anything she longs to be worthy of his love. Greg, on the other hand, pities and desires Lucky, but he also deeply mistrusts her and assumes she’s a whore, a liar, and a thief. The inequity of this relationship makes it an uncomfortable one to read; it’s also compelling, difficult to turn away.
Slowly Greg, Lucky, and we learn more about Lucky’s past. These revelations change Greg’s attitude towards Lucky, and the attraction between them grows and matures.
The bad stuff in this novel is all about the suspense. If this book is to be believed, the police on Maui are astonishingly incompetent. It was very, very obvious from the beginning that there was something suspicious about Lucky’s accident, and not just because I knew she was the heroine. The police didn’t even examine the smashed car until halfway through the book. Apparently the only rationale for not investigating this accident is that Lucky’s kind of trashy-looking. The fact that the policeman in charge of the investigation is Greg’s brother, a supposedly-sympathetic secondary character, was a real flaw in this book. Another problem is the main villain, who is so evil he’s a complete caricature. Worst of all, in the book’s climax, Lucky does something that is not only TSTL, but also seems like a textbook case of depraved indifference. If the guys from Law And Order were on the case, Lucky would be in real trouble.
Sawyer does a pretty interesting twist on the old amnesia plotline by making it very clear that Lucky will never recover her memory. The brain damage caused not only permanent memory loss but also a change in the way Lucky reacts to stimulus: a change in her personality. I believed that this kind of trauma would change a person’s nature; what I didn’t believe was that the personality change would be so uniformly positive. Before the head injury, Lucky seems to have been at the very least a difficult person; after the head injury, she’s not only nice, but Christian as well.
All in all, this is a pretty good book. I recommend it for the intricate and gripping relationship between its protagonists, and for the interesting new twist on the old amnesia plotline. Unforgettable is not perfect, but it does live up to its title.