NOTE: This is a debut guest review from Sami Skelton. You can expect more guest reviews from Sami in the future, and remember that you can always submit your own guest reviews for consideration to email@example.com.
If you looked in at your life as a clueless, third-party observer, would you like what you saw? Or would you be disappointed? Can you imagine what it would feel like to not even recognize your own face?
The Song Remains The Same follows the life of Nell Slattery, a successful art gallery owner, after she survives a devastating plane crash of which she is one of two survivors. Nell may have survived, but her memory of the past 32 years of her life did not.
The life Nell’s forgotten wasn’t a fairytale; her past life was wrought with complications and drama. All Nell has to go on in her attempt to regain her past is a not-so-fun game of he said/she said, and Nell doesn’t know who to believe. Nell’s family and friends don’t always keep her best interests in mind and each person’s version of the past differs from the next.
Before I began reading this book, my greatest hope was that it would challenge my expectations and not follow the typical, formulaic amnesiac-romance plot line. In some ways, The Song Remains The Samedid exceed my expectations. This isn’t a story of perfect lives and eternal love. It’s a story, to a certain extent, of reality. Winn Scotch made this novel more unique by portraying the darker side of people and the extent to which they’ll go to cover up their own mistakes.
Periodically throughout the book, the chapters will switch from Nell’s first-person narrative to third-person omniscient perspective. It’s a tactic used to show the innermost feelings and misgivings of the various people in Nell’s life. As a reader, I was torn by how to feel about these chapters. They were helpful because they gave me a better understanding of the motivation behind their choices of what to tell Nell and what to leave out. They were interesting because they allow the reader to really delve into the private and secret feelings of the other characters. On the other hand, we’re (mostly) adult readers who are capable of drawing conclusions and connections without the author spelling it out for us.
It’s clear from the beginning of the novel, for example, that Nell’s mother, Indira, doesn’t want her to remember the messy details of the past. It’s also clear that Indira is keeping information from Nell to keep her in the dark. The third-person perspective in this instance isn’t necessary to convey Indira’s indiscretion or her discomfort with the situation. While seeing Indira’s thought process is interesting, it doesn’t give the reader any new information about her.
Indira stares at her for a second, debating. Nell is slipping back–here’s the proof–already being tucked behind old habits. The anger! The distrust! Telling her the truth would push her farther down the rabbit hole….Finally, Indira blinks and inhales. She will tell her, she thinks, in bits and pieces, dribble out enough to inform her, not enough to snap that rigid backbone upright all over again.
Because the reader is privy to this information before Nell, the impact is lessened when Nell discovers her mother’s errors. It’s an interesting method on the author’s part, but I’m not sure it was entirely necessary. It could have been interesting as a reader to find out all the missing details right as Nell did.
While it’s clear to the reader that before the accident Nell was cold, stuffy and even a little pretentious, my final conclusion about Nell is that she is absolutely a strong female before and after the accident. “New Nell” and “Old Nell,” as she refers to herself pre- and post-accident, are indeed different, but she proves that there is more than one way to be strong, confident, and self-sufficient.
Although there were many memorable moments throughout The Song Remains the Same, these words, to me, best sum up Nell’s journey to re-find herself:
You can never trust someone else when it’s your story to tell.