For the most part We Came Here to Forget was a somewhat inconsistent read. Perhaps this is due to the two timelines, one which follows Katie Cleary as she grows up, and the other one focuses on the aftermath a personal tragedy. In order to escape from her unbearable existence (one in which she has just lost her friends, boyfriend, and career) Katie ‘reinvents’ herself as Liz Sullivan and travels to Buenos Aires.
Although we know that something bad has happened between Katie/Liz and her older sister, we don’t know the details until the very end. This choice, rather than creating suspense, frustrated me since I predicted what had happened (there are a few things that could make a whole family so infamous)…the timeline focused on the past provided little insight in Katie’s relationship with her sister and her parents. It was mostly telling rather than showing. The parents are only occasionally mentioned, and Katie’s sister, who should have been the focal point of this timeline, is rendered through vague descriptions and observations that usually allude to her later ‘crime’.
The present timeline provided a more nuanced and interesting story. Liz’s struggle to reconcile herself with that ‘bad thing’ and her own ‘fallout’ gave her character an emotional arc. Again, I think that revealing earlier on what happened with her sister would have allowed for even more depth but alas…this narrative was for the most part enjoyable. Although Liz initially struggles to adapt to her new surroundings, she soon falls in with a group of people similar to her: they have all left their ‘baggage’ in other countries. Perhaps the male characters came across as less nuanced than the female characters and their personalities too were somewhat same-y.
Kate/Liz’s love interests added little to the story. Luke had scarcely any lines, and remained off page for the majority of the story. Blair was also a character who remained in the sidelines until he makes a predictable appearance later on…Gianluca could have been an interesting character but he ended up being merely a plot device for Kate/Liz’s character development…throw in an oddly detailed and unnecessary sex scenes and there you have it: a mixed bag. Is the novel about family? Not really. Mental illness? A bit. Love? Occasionally.
It was just too inconsistent for my taste and I will be approaching Dunlop’s future work with caution…
My rating: ★★★✰✰ 3 stars
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