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Very Strong Debut, Some Issues with Character Development and Pacing

The Forgotten Hours - Katrin Schumann

I really loved the premise of the "Forgotten Hours" (a teenage girl loses her best friend and father after a rape accusation and trial). This type of plot feels very timely. That said, I thought that the story being told in third person point of view actually pushed me away as a reader. I think if it was told in the first person point of view I would have felt more entwined with Katie and her choices. Also, if it had been first person point of view, I would have given more leeway on the secondary characters (Zen, Lulu, her father, mother, brother, etc) being written so shallowly. However, writing in third person point of view, I think she could have tapped into everyone's emotions a lot more and the backstory. I needed to get into Lulu's and her father's head more. 


"The Forgotten Hours" goes back and forth following the events that broke up Katie Gregory's family more than 6 years ago. Katie's best friend from childhood accuses her father of rape, after two years of investigation/trial, he is found guilty. This ends up causing her family to fracture. Now that he is getting out of jail, Katie is focused on getting her family back to the way it was. There are complications however with her father wanting her to return to their family's cabin, and make it ready for him. This leads Katie down a path to figure out what really happened, and was it her fault.


Katie is really the center of this story. I wish that Schumann had her come to some realizations a lot sooner. She has had to draw herself in due to what happened to her family, and I get that. However, her relationship with Zen had her being ambivalent about it for reasons dealing with her father. It's pretty obvious that Katie sees herself as her father's daughter and him being sent to jail for something she doesn't believe he did has broken some part of herself. I just wish that we had seen more interactions between her and her brother David. That character is written as being more aware of things then Katie ever did. I just wish that they had more honest conversations. The same with Katie and her mother. Back to Katie, we get more insight on what occurred 8 years ago (when Katie and Lulu were 17) and how Katie worshiped Lulu until a boy comes between them. The book flips back and forth between present day and the past.



I think Lulu was written well, but I wanted more there. Her story made me sad and I think it got passed over a little too quickly. The question that Katie has is why would Lulu lie about her father. However, we are given hints here and there what was going on with Lulu and I wish that had been the story. 


Katie's father, John Gregory, is charismatic. There is a pull to him when we have the story in the before time period. He is the guy that everyone is drawn to, wants to make happy. Even Katie contrasts him with her mother and she finds her lacking due to her withdrawal from their family. 


Katie is haunted by her teen crush and I just thought that whole thing with him was a waste (the present time period). The before time period, once again, Schumman types into something when she goes back to first loves, summer days and night, and the smell of the sun and the lake on your skin. 


The writing was good, though sometimes a bit overworked. I have to say that I loved all of the sections dealing with Katie and Lulu showing them growing up together and their summers together. Schumann taps into being a young girl and how hard it is sometimes to be best friends with someone. We also get Lulu's longing to be part of Katie's family and how Lulu's life is so different from Katie's.


When we switch back to the present time frame, I just see Katie as a pale shadow still being jerked around by Lulu. You would think that she would be separate from her at this point. We know that the two had no contact after the rape accusation besides a nasty email that Katie sent. But you have Katie wondering why Lulu never reached out to her. I just rolled my eyes a bit at that.

The setting of the book bounces between New York, upper state New York, and London. I have to say that Schumman writes of New York, and summers on the lake very well. The parts in London were very thin to me. We/Katie get info dumped about some things and I just wish it was done differently.

The ending was bittersweet. I wish it had ended differently because I honestly don't think that the Gregory family ever really comes to term with things. Ostriches, the lot of them.