cover image Tell Me an Ending

Tell Me an Ending

Jo Harkin. Scribner, $27 (448p) ISBN 978-1-982164-32-4

Harkin wrestles with the ethics of choosing to forget one’s past in this richly imagined debut. In an alternate present, medical company Nepenthe has been providing memory deletion services for the past 20 years. Clients classified as “self-informed” are still aware they had a procedure to wipe a recent memory. Those who are “self-confidential” chose to forget they’ve had the erasure. A class action lawsuit filed by clients plagued by trace memories spurs the company to inform all self-confidentials of their deletion and offer memory restorations. Harkin tells the story from the points of view of a psychologist working for Nepenthe, a college dropout struggling with trace memories, an architect who discovers that his wife was a self-confidential, a young man inexplicably missing years of memories, and a former policeman seeking a memory deletion despite his estranged wife’s concerns. The author does a good job imagining the effects of Nepenthe’s work while characters weigh questions such as whether or not the self is inherently altered by memory loss. Some arcs feel more emotionally fleshed out than others, but Harkin keeps the plot tight and times her reveals effectively. It adds up to a smart speculative outing. Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown. (Mar.)