Book Review: “How to Be Remembered” by Micheal Thompson

Better write yourself a note. That’s the only way you’re going to remember anything anymore. If it ain’t written down, it doesn’t exist. Tie a string on your finger, clip on a clothes pin, set a timer somewhere, whatever works to jog your memory is what you do. But in the new book “How to Be Remembered” by Michael Thompson, the forgetting runs much deeper.

Miss Michelle couldn’t remember a time when it’d actually happened, but she supposed that it was possible for police to drop a baby off at Milkwood House without waking anyone. That must’ve been what happened; the staff found just a baby, a crib, and his clothing one morning, and that was that. A baby and his belongings, no paperwork, no clues. 

It took years of growing up for that boy, Tommy, to understand why. 

Each January 4, things were fine when he went to bed but the next morning, every shred of evidence that he’d ever existed was wiped away. Overnight, his clothes, his belongings, school papers, gone. Each January 5, he started over, creating relationships, accumulating possessions, inserting himself in the lives of people he knew but who didn’t remember him.

It was heartbreaking when he was very small but by about eight years old, he’d gotten used to it. Over time, he’d even devised some workarounds, though certainly, the entire yearly situation was growing tiresome. And then Tommy fell in love.

Her name was Carey and she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, but being an orphan wasn’t easy; she struggled, he helped her, he saved her life. But shortly after the following January 5, after Tommy’s annual “Reset” happened, Carey aged out of the orphanage, she left, and he knew she’d forget him.

But Tommy never forgot her, especially after he found a loophole: if he was physically touching something, it came to the Reset with him. This was important. If he could figure out how, he’d find Carey. He could have a real life. 

He would be remembered.

Is author Michael Thompson going to leave you devastated?  You’ll wonder that often, about every other chapter maybe, but you’ll find no spoilers here. Nope, you need to experience “How to be Remembered” all on your own.

You’ll be glad you did.

But know this: the first chapter is going to really throw you. It makes no sense until you’re almost through it, which is about the time when it becomes apparent that you can’t stop. It’s then that you’ll understand the uniqueness of this entire tale and you can appreciate the cleverness of Thompson’s characters. That’s also when you’ll begin to notice the small slips of drollery here and there, the wit that oils the plot so well, and the kind of snorters you spot when you have to laugh, or you’ll cry.

How to Be Remembered” by Michael Thompson


Sourcebooks Landmark $16.99

368 pages