In this evocative debut novel, Katrin Schumann weaves a riveting story of past and present—and how love can lead us astray.
At twenty-four, Katie Gregory feels like life is looking up: she’s snagged a great job in New York City and is falling for a captivating artist—and memories of her traumatic past are finally fading. Katie’s life fell apart almost a decade earlier, during an idyllic summer at her family’s cabin on Eagle Lake when her best friend accused her father of sexual assault. Throughout his trial and imprisonment, Katie insisted on his innocence, dodging reporters, and clinging to memories of the man she adores.
Now he’s getting out. Yet when Katie returns to the shuttered lakeside cabin, details of that fateful night resurface: the chill of the lake, the heat of first love, the terrible sting of jealousy. And as old memories collide with new realities, they call into question everything she thinks she knows about family, friends, and, ultimately, herself. Now, Katie’s choices will be put to the test with life-altering consequences.
This book wasn’t the most enjoyable read to me for a variety of different reasons. However, before I get into all of that, I’d like to discuss what I did like about The Forgotten Hours. The very few things I liked about this book are the subject matter and setting of the overall plot in the story.
What I found enjoyable about this book with regards to the subject matter is how the story doesn’t shy away from talking about sexual assault. Talking about that subject is something that can be quite heavy, and I feel like the way it was discussed was very informative in this story. I think what made it particularly informative was hearing things from the perspective of someone who had a loved one accused of committing such a horrible trauma. In most books, you get the perspective of the traumatized victim when it comes to sexual assault. However, in The Forgotten Hours, the story is told from the perspective of Katie, the daughter of the man who was accused of sexually assaulting her best friend. I found it interesting to hear what she had to say about what happened with her friend because I wasn’t sure what her perspective would be. While I don’t agree with the way she handled the whole situation, I felt sympathetic to her because of the accused being her father and couldn’t imagine how traumatic it must’ve been having to deal with everything that came after.
I also enjoyed the setting of the plot in this book, from the cabin at Eagle Lake where Katie held so many memories to her new life in New York after the trial. I found hearing about the landscape of Eagle Lake very interesting and felt like I was along with her when she was in New York.
But there are so many things about The Forgotten Hours that I don’t like that, unfortunately, overshadow the aspects of the story I did enjoy. While I found it fascinating to read a story that talks about sexual assault from the perspective of an accused’s loved one, I found the way Katie reacted to her best friend’s assault very damaging. While I understand it’s her father that’s accused in the story, I really don’t understand how a character can be so utterly clueless and naive. Throughout the book, she insists on her father’s innocence. But she never once during the time the trial takes place or before he’s set to be released look into what happened. She testifies at his trial yet has no clue who else testified until she goes back to Eagle Lake to get their family cabin straightened out. It isn’t until her father gets released that she begins to question what she thought was true, not years before when the events this story focuses on takes place. While I understand she was dealing with trauma from her best friend accusing her father, I feel like she could’ve handled everything a whole lot better than she did. She sided with her dad without looking into whether he committed the crime he was accused of, which I feel is a very damaging thing to do. Especially since the person traumatized was supposedly her best friend.
Another criticism I have for this book is how bad the overall plot of the story turned. While I enjoyed hearing the perspective of an accused’s loved one, I found Katie herself to be annoying. From the beginning, she insisted on her father’s innocence without so much as looking into what happened that night. And as a reader, you start to believe in him too with the way Katie talks about their relationship. But then when she discovers there’s more to her father that she has no clue about, I find myself not feeling too sorry for her at all. Especially since she never actually pays too close attention to the trial until she goes back to her family’s cabin. And personally, it takes way too long for her to figure out there’s more to the story than what she believes to be true. So when we as readers find out the truth of what happened, it feels sudden. While I expected that to be the case, I didn’t like the direction this story went, and it made me hard to continue reading.
Along with a bad plot, The Forgotten Hours also had bad characters too. Not just character development, but the characters in this book themselves I wasn’t too fond of. I feel like part of the reason for this is because they are very one-dimensional. Even Katie herself didn’t have too many sides to her character in this story other than being naïve about her father and blindly believing in him at the expense of friendship.
As a result, The Forgotten Hours is a book I read that I’m glad I finished so I don’t have to ever pick it up again. It’s a story with a messy plot and forgettable characters that made me wish I never read this book.