If you’ve been following along with the podcast, you will remember that Mandy was supposed to get an ARC mailed to her after YALLFest because it was accidentally given away. That ARC was Forget Me Not, Alyson Derrick’s upcoming solo debut. She never did receive it, but being the absolute worst friend in existence, I snatched up a copy when I had the chance (No regrets though, sorry Mandy!)
The story follows Stevie and Nora, the cutest couple you ever did meet. They are incredibly in love and gearing up to leave their super conservative small town to move to California where they can finally be together publicly. But then Stevie has an accident - and she forgets the past two years of her life, including her entire relationship with Nora. As Stevie tries to piece back together the life she’s forgotten, Nora has to come to terms with the idea that the woman she loves might never remember her.
The whole premise of this story is heartbreaking, but I don’t think I went into it properly prepared for how heartbreaking it would actually be. Within the first few chapters, I was overwhelmed with the amount of emotion I felt for these two lovers as well as the amount of emotion they had for each other. Alyson has a way with words that hits you directly in your soul and I don’t know if I’ll ever emotionally recover (or, honestly, if I even want to).
On the surface, this story is about seeing if these two lovers can make their way back to each other after a tragedy. But it goes even deeper than that, discussing racism and homophobia in a space that is increasingly conservative and bigoted. Growing up in a large, diverse, and pretty liberal city, it never occurred to me how hard life would be for someone who looked like me to live elsewhere, but this story makes it clear that it's not all rainbows and sunshine for anyone who is considered "other." It is clear that Alyson put her whole heart into this story and it is the kind of story that can help to start heal a generation that feels lost and forgotten.
Though this is a love story that suffers a great tragedy, you come out the other side feeling hopeful, optimistic even - about love, about family, and about the community you find along the way. It’s a reminder to us all that, even though the hate is loud and strong, the heart is stronger. It’s only a matter of letting yourself believe in it.
This book will stretch the limits of what your heart can feel, but it’s a ride I would not take back for anything. Prepare yourself with a box of tissues and whatever comfort items you need because you will need all the comfort out there.
Forget Me Not by Alyson Derrick hits shelves April 4, 2023. You can pick up a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link here or from my local indie, Linden Tree Books, here (without whom this review would not be possible).
Submit your proof of purchase (from wherever you order!) here to receive a limited edition art print and signed book plate (US only). If you’d like a signed and personalized copy, order from White Whale Bookstore and, if you're local to Pittsburgh, head on over on release day for a launch party with Alyson Derrick and her wife (and fellow author) Rachael Lippincott. The event will also be live-streamed for those outside the Pittsburgh area.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! Or support a local indie directly by ordering from my local indie, Linden Tree Books, also linked above!