Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: The Song Remains the Same

Summary: One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind, with the help of family and friends, who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music, and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon, in tiny bits and pieces, Nell starts remembering. . . .

It isn't long before she learns to question the stories presented by her mother, her sister and business partner, and her husband. In the end, she will discover that forgiving betrayals small and large will be the only true path to healing herself-and to finding happiness. -- Putnam

I have been anxiously awaiting Allison Winn Scotch's new novel THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME. I am a big fan of Ms. Scotch's and it seems like I always love her books. I had no reason to think that THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME would be any different especially after reading so many terrific reviews in the blogosphere. However, I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that I loved this book. I liked it okay (and there's not anything "wrong" with the story), but it won't go down as one of my favorite Allison Winn Scotch novels.

I admit I was a little surprised to see that her latest novel is about a woman who suffers from amnesia after an airplane accident. A few months back, it seemed like memory loss was a hot topic for books; and I feel as if I've already read quite a few books with a similar premise. I do have to give kudos to Ms. Scotch, though, for THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME because she managed to keep it original. I thought the characters and the story were fresh and this novel was entertaining.

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME tells the story of Nell, a woman who wakes up with absolutely no memory after surviving a horrible airplane accident. Nell finds some comfort in that her family and friends are there to support her and help her remember. However, the reader quickly realizes that their intentions might not be to assist Nell, but rather to serve their own needs. Nell's mother, sister, and husband each put a spin on Nell's life that puts them in a good light; and it isn't until Nell starts to get back her memory that she realizes the truth about loved ones... and herself.

There were many good things about THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, but I just had a hard time connecting to the characters. Normally I would say that you don't have to like the characters to appreciate a novel, and I do agree with that most of the time. In the case of this story, though, I do think it stood in the way of my enjoyment. I really wanted to connect to someone, preferably Nell; and it didn't happen. That's not to say that I didn't feel bad for Nell's situation. I just didn't feel like I got to "understand" what made Nell tick. Maybe this was the author's intent since Nell didn't really know anything about herself either, and if that's the case, it was effective. I'm just saying that I wanted to feel more towards Nell and be more outraged when those closest to her acted so selfishly.

It's probably pretty obvious that Nell's family and husband weren't exactly likable given how they treated Nell; however, I was okay with that. In fact, even though they were despicable at times, I actually found some humor in these parts of the story. You might be surprised to hear me say that because the book does sound like it could be pretty depressing, but I thought THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME was very funny; and I thought the author did a very good job with balancing the humor, the emotional parts, and the life lessons.

And that brings me to my final point. THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME would make an interesting book club pick because there are some universal messages in this story. I wasn't able to find a reader's guide on the publisher's website, but I don't think they are necessary to generate a quality discussion. Of course, the characters would be interesting to analyze since they were pretty unique (i.e. selfish), and Nell's self discovery is certainly worth some thought; however, there are also some other themes that might warrant some further discussion. Some of the topics you might want to explore include marriage problems, friendship, parent/child relationships, sibling rivalry, trust, forgiveness, acceptance, and redemption.

While THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME was my absolute favorite Allison Winn Scotch book, it still was enjoyable and worth reading.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I've not read any of her books, even though I feel like I've seen just about every blogger I know read and love her. The premise sounds discussion worthy, but like you said, this memory thing (and the mystery-solving aspect of what really happened) has been done over and over. Doesn't mean you can't be entertained, but at this stage you kinda know you're not going to have your mind blown.

bermudaonion said...

It does seem that amnesia books were popular earlier this year. Even though this wasn't your favorite of the author's work, it still sounds like it's worth reading.

Serena said...

Its good to hear that the amnesia thing is kept unique compared to others about this topic. I have not read this author before, but I've heard only good things.

Beth F said...

I too haven't read her books yet. I'll start with one of her others.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I think amnesia books almost always make good book club choices!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I couldn't connect to the characters either and gave up reading after a while.

Anna said...

I really enjoyed Time of My Life, so I couldn't wait to read this one. I'm still toward the beginning, but I'm also having some trouble connecting with the characters. Maybe I'll feel differently by the time I finish it.