I’ve (virtually) known author Jodi Gibson for a number of years via the online writing and blogging world so was very excited she decided to independently publish her debut novel, The Memories We Hide. It’s an enjoyable read which reflects her warm and relatable writing style as well as her familiarity with small town Australia and country life.
The Memories We Hide
by Jodi Gibson
Published by Self-published
on August 20th 2019
Genres: Women's Fiction, General Fiction
When Laura Murphy returns home ten years after the death of her childhood sweetheart Ryan Taylor, her past begins to unravel and memories she’d long pushed aside begin to surface.
Having trouble reconciling truth and memory, Laura reconnects with her friend Tom to try and find closure, but Tom has issues of his own. Not only is he faced with the threat of losing his farm, but he is also hiding a secret that could change everything for them both.
Will Laura and Tom find the answers they need to move forward, or will they discover that memories can’t always be trusted?
I enjoyed this entertaining story by Gibson and read it in a sitting, although it’s a little outside of my usual reading genre.
I very much liked our lead character Laura. In particular I liked the relationship between her and her mother and wished that had perhaps gone on a little longer. But alas… it wasn’t meant to be – which of course is the pivotal point of the story (and Laura’s ‘journey’).
Nevertheless, I enjoyed their dialogue and the scenes between them felt really natural and very realistic and very touching.
Obviously we also meet Tom, one of Laura’s childhood best friends, and we learn pretty quickly that something happened ten years earlier that caused Laura to disregard her ‘life plans’, leave town and not return. Although her mother’s visited her in the city, Laura’s lost contact with everyone from her childhood, including Tom.
Gibson deftly ekes out the events of ten years before for much of the latter part of the novel and each time we think we’ve finally learned the truth behind the tragedy that led to Laura’s departure, there’s more.
Initially I’d felt as if Laura was acting a tad preciously, and indeed she acknowledges that she wasn’t the only one hurt by the events of a decade earlier, though we slowly understand she was struggling with a lot at the time. The fact her thoughts and feelings range from guilt to regret to anger – about her own role and that of others – felt a little inconsistent, though probably reflects that she’s still not processed all that was happening then.
I often comment on things from my childhood or teenage years only to have my mother correct me. I mean, I’m often SOOOO certain something happened and yet, apparently my memories aren’t all that reliable. It meant I could very much understand and relate to Laura’s mis-memories here.
I probably would have liked a little more background to Laura’s relationship with Luke which rather abruptly ends as the story opens. I guess we came in part way through and Laura’s already had her concerns about their life together (not to mention the baggage from her younger years). I must admit though, it kinda felt like a fight to me so I didn’t blame him for thinking it wasn’t a definitive break-up.
Similarly the advent of a new relationship felt a little sudden – though I guess I can appreciate that not all relationships involve people getting swept off their feet, rather some develop because they feel ‘right’.
Gibson’s knowledge of farming and cattle and rural Australia is evident as she effortlessly relays detail about Tom’s farm and small-town life and she offers a very believable backdrop via Laura’s home-town of Banyula. The sense of ‘place’ was exceptionally well done.
Romance, guilt and regret aside, there’s an important message on offer here around the mental health of young people in regional and rural communities – reflected both in the events of the past and via a young(er) friend of Laura’s.
In some ways there’s also an underlying theme of expectations placed upon young people who don’t feel as if they ‘fit’ and who are struggling to find find their place in the world, which adds a level of depth to this enjoyable debut novel.
I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes.