Excerpt from All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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All Is Not Forgotten

by Wendy Walker

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker X
All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2016, 280 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2017, 320 pages

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Chapter One

He followed her through the woods behind the house. The ground there was littered with winter debris, dead leaves and twigs that had fallen over the past six months and decayed beneath a blanket of snow. She may have heard him approach. She may have turned and seen him wearing the black wool mask whose fibers were found beneath her nails. As she fell to her knees, what was left of the brittle twigs snapped like old bones and scraped her bare skin. Her face and chest pressed hard into the ground, likely with the outside of his forearm, she would have felt the mist from the sprinklers blowing off the lawn not twenty feet away. Her hair was wet when they found her.

When she was a younger girl, she would chase the sprinklers at her own house, trying to catch them on a hot summer afternoon, or dodge them on a crisp spring evening. Her baby brother would then chase her, buck naked with his bulging belly and flailing arms that were not quite able to coordinate with his little legs. Sometimes their dog would join in, barking so voraciously, it would drown out their laughter. An acre of green grass, slippery and wet. Big open skies with puffy white clouds. Her mother inside watching them from the window and her father on his way home from places whose smells would linger on his suit. The stale coffee from the showroom office, new leather, tire rubber. Those memories were painful now, though she had turned immediately to them when asked about the sprinklers, and whether they had been on when she ran across the lawn to the woods.

The rape lasted for close to an hour. It seems impossible that they could know this. Something about the clotting of the blood at the points of penetration, and the varied stages of bruising on her back, arms, and neck where he'd changed his method of constraint. In that hour, the party had continued the way she'd left it. She would have seen it from where she lay, lights glaring from the windows, flickering as bodies moved through the rooms. It was a big party, with nearly all the tenth grade and handfuls of kids from ninth and eleventh making appearances. Fairview High School was small by most standards, even for suburban Connecticut, and the class divisions that existed elsewhere were far looser here. Sports teams were mixed, plays, concerts, and the like. Even some classes crossed grade boundaries, with the smartest kids in math and foreign languages moving up a level. Jenny Kramer had never made it into an advanced class. But she believed herself to be smart, and endowed with a fierce sense of humor. She was also a good athlete—swimming, field hockey, tennis. But she felt none of those things had mattered until her body matured.

The night of this party had felt better than any moment in her life. I think she may even have said, It was going to be the best night of my life. After years of what I have come to think of as adolescent cocooning, she felt she had come into her own. The cruelty of braces and lingering baby fat, breasts that were too small for a bra but still protruding through her T-shirts, acne and unruly hair, had finally gone away. She had been the "tomboy," the friend, the confidante to boys who were always interested in other girls. Never in her. These were her words, not mine, although I feel she described them quite well for a fifteen-year-old. She was unusually self-aware. In spite of what her parents and teachers had drilled into her, into all of them, she believed—and she was not alone among her peers in this—that beauty was still the most valuable asset to a girl in Fairview. Finally having it had felt like winning the lottery.

And then there was the boy. Doug Hastings. He had invited her to the party on a Monday in the hallway between Chemistry and European History. She was very specific about that, and about what he was wearing and the expression on his face and how he seemed a little nervous though he acted nonchalant. She had thought of little else all week except what to wear and how to do her hair and the color of polish for her manicure when she went with her mother Saturday morning. It surprised me a bit. I am not fond of Doug Hastings, from what I know of him. As a parent, I feel entitled to have such opinions. I am not unsympathetic to his situation—a bully for a father, his mother quite feeble in her attempts to parent around him. Still, I found it somewhat disappointing that Jenny had not seen through him.

Excerpted from All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker. Copyright © 2016 by Wendy Walker. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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