Rating: 4 stars
Genre: family drama, emotional, suspense, thriller
I finished this book on my third attempt of reading – on my first two I didn’t get past the second chapter. The book is not badly written, Johan van Nierop is in fact an excellent author, but this is a story with difficult content; not only because it covers the lives and histories of a community of people, rather than just one or two main protagonists; but it forces the reader to confront significant issues – all of which are the antithesis of the other – the mother/daughter, father/son relationships; death vs living; crime and punishment; the past and the present; hate vs love; reason and madness.
‘Remnants of Another Yesterday’ starts with the discovery of the body of a young girl, by two boys, in the creek of the small town. Then as the book goes forward each chapter is divided into sections and the stories told in that section may not necessarily relate to the narrative before. I initially found the hopping around destabilising, particularly as there are so many characters within the story, but after a third of the book I found my rhythm, and I think that the shining character of the book was Steve Stanton.
Johan van Nierop’s characters are intense and he has obviously researched them well prior to writing as there are no holes in the plot, despite the fact that they are all telling their stories in the present time before moving to the past, and then returning to their present. There were definitely times when I felt the emotion conveyed by the characters and for the last few chapters of the book I couldn’t move, which contrasted to how I felt about the beginning of the story.
I would recommend this book to readers who understand that this may be a challenge but as long as it is dealt with sensitivity there will be a reward.