cover image The Sweetness of Forgetting

The Sweetness of Forgetting

Kristin Harmel. S&S/Gallery, $15 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4516-4429-6

Hope McKenna-Smith struggles to run the family bakery on Cape Cod while coping with a recent divorce; a churlish preteen daughter named Annie; and a grandmother, Rose, who is quickly succumbing to Alzheimer’s. During one of Hope’s visits, Rose—in a rare and desperate moment of lucidity—gives Hope a list of seven relatives whom Rose last saw in WWII-era France, and begs her to track them down so she might know their fates. Urged along by Annie, Hope abandons the bakery and jets to Paris. There she unearths family secrets buried for decades, and while Rose’s memory fades away, Hope comes face to face with the people and places of her grandmother’s past—one of fear, world war, and a clandestine, far-reaching love. Despite hackneyed dialogue (Annie uses “like” in nearly every sentence) and the challenge of working in well-trod territory, Harmel (After) manages to deliver an immersive and evocative tale of generations struggling to survive. Recipes sprinkled throughout the book allow readers to experience firsthand the sweetness of Hope’s journey. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Literary. (Aug.)