About the Book
All the world forgets me. First my face, then my voice, then the consequences of my deeds.
So listen. Remember me.
My name is Hope Arden, and you won’t know who I am. We’ve met before – a thousand times. But I am the girl the world forgets.
It started when I was sixteen years old. A slow declining, an isolation, one piece at a time.
A father forgetting to drive me to school. A mother setting the table for three, not four. A teacher who forgets to chase my missing homework. A friend who looks straight through me and sees a stranger.
No matter what I do, the words I say, the people I hurt, the crimes I commit – you will never remember who I am.
That makes my life tricky. But it also makes me dangerous . . .
468 pages (hardcover)
Published on May 17, 2016
Published by Orbit
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This book was an Audible purchase.
I absolutely adore Claire North’s books. She’s cerebral in the way I love, and hard-hitting. She takes one core idea and twists it in unique, unforgettable ways. Now, that being said, her books aren’t for everyone. Depending on the kind of reader you are, you’ll either love or hate her work. It seems like everyone falls on one side of the line with her books, and very few people sit in the middle ground.
Obviously, I’m one of the people who fall on the “love it” side of the line with her.
The Sudden Appearance of Hope is incredibly powerful. The story is told by one Hope Arden, a young woman who lives a fairly normal life until she’s sixteen and the world starts forgetting her.
So, at the core of this book is the idea of being memorable. Hope, for whatever unknown reason, can’t be remembered past the point when people stop looking at her. She just vanishes from their memory, all images of her, all memory of their conversation, anything that happened between them. This is true for her parents to everyone else.
On the one hand, if no one can remember you, you can pretty much do whatever you want. There’s really nothing holding you back. You’re only arrested for as long as it takes the cop who hauled you in to leave the room.
On the other hand, if no one can remember, you are completely alone. Hope loses her friends, her family, her home. She has to basically live from hotel to hotel because no one can remember her long enough for her to pay rent, or get government support. She can’t hold a steady job for the same reasons. She has no legacy. She truly is a woman who lives only in the moment, completely and absolutely isolated in every way.
North really paints that picture in bold colors that can’t be overlooked. In fact, the emotional gut-punch of just how isolated Hope is throughout the book never really went away. The connections she forms are powerful to her remembered to her, but just momentary to others. If she falls in love, it’s just for a few hours for the other party, but a memory that will haunt her forever for her. It’s incredibly powerful.
With all that said, it’s understood that Hope has to turn to a life of crime to survive in a world that forgets her. As a thief with an eye for jewels, and a name on the black market, Hope makes her way through life quite well. She has a set of rules that she lives by like she never lets it get personal.
Until she does.
And that’s where the book really takes off. When a normal theft turns into something more, Hope is swept away in a tide of events that not only explores her forgettability but also toys with individuality, I’d even venture to say North dips her toes into the waters of a kind of slavery. There are a lot of very weighty themes being explored here, all sort of revolving around Hope’s core dynamic. While it would be easy for North to lose focus, to make a mess of all these topics, somehow, she manages to keep all the balls in the air.
Hope takes readers all around the world, weaving her narrative together with memories that help readers get a feel for who she is now, and how she came to be this person. There’re also some delightful parts where you kind of see Hope’s eccentricities, like her counting, her relentless search for meaning in just about everything she does. Her constant search for contact with other people. And oh, the tension. So much tension.
The Sudden Appearance of Hope is tense, emotional, and ultimately incredibly powerful. This is one of those books that will haunt me for quite a while, with themes that make me examine the world I live in a bit differently. That’s the mark of a truly good read, in my estimation. It doesn’t just fill you up while you’re reading it, it sticks to your bones long after you finish.
As an aside, I listened to the audiobook and it was incredible. The narrator filled the story full of so much emotion, I think she was instrumental in the powerful impact this book had on me. I highly recommend it.
The TL/DR version of this review is: This book is pure genius.