Release date: March 21, 2017
Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler, is dead, but the cops are killing him all over again. They say he died of a drug overdose, potentially suicide—something Megan cannot accept. Determined to figure out what happened in the months before Tyler’s death, Megan turns to the things he left behind. After all, she understands the stories objects can tell—at fifteen, she is a gifted collage artist with a flair for creating found-object pieces. However, she now realizes that her artistic talent has developed into something more: she can see memories attached to some of Tyler’s belongings—and those memories reveal a brother she never knew.
Enlisting the help of an artifact detective who shares her ability and specializes in murderabilia—objects tainted by violence or the deaths of their owners—Megan finds herself drawn into a world of painful personal and national memories. Along with a trusted classmate and her brother’s charming friend, she chases down the troubling truth about Tyler across Washington, DC, while reclaiming her own stifled identity with a vengeance.
A contemporary with an element of paranormal, The Hidden Memory of Objects explores how grief, memories and remembrance is tied in with each other. After Megan’s brother dies mysteriously, she is surprised to learn the versions of her brother that she was unaware of. She knew the protective brother, but he was many different things to many different people and trying to figure out that might lead her to how he died. She is also having an identity crisis about herself, because she always listened to her brother and kept her head down and nose out of trouble, but if he was never who he said he was, was she also a fake version of herself?
Conceptually, this novel first appealed to me because of the paranormal element, psychometry. The idea that by touching an object, you can see the memories associated with it. For Megan, this means she can see her brother once more, learn his secrets, learn how he died. But as she keeps on going, she finds out her abilities come with an increasing price. Her friends in this venture are her brother’s friend Nathan and her old one, Eric. Before you say love triangle, I would like you disabuse you of that notion – Eric is very much the comic relief and the light of this book. Honestly, I couldn’t even imagine how Megan, with all her prickly rudeness, could hurt him and not feel bad about it. She is not a likeable character, and it is not in an admirable sense; reading through her was a task of patience, because she keeps making reckless and impulsive decisions and hurting others.
As for the plot, it ties in with Lincoln’s assassination and artifacts associated with it. Megan’s first real break comes through with the help of a box that has his visage on it, and which she saw in her brother’s memories. But somewhere between uncovering her brother’s secrets and investigating his death, she stumbles on a bigger conspiracy. The ending was quite rushed when it came to the consequences of uncovering said conspiracy, but maybe that was okay, since the story’s focus was mainly on her memories of her brother. It is a good book in its entirety, but I still feel it lacked the pull to keep me glued to it. I could not connect to the characters, or feel the danger in the plot. It is a good debut, but with more refinement, could have been stronger.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Balzer & Bray, via Edelweiss.