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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The party was everything she had imagined. Parents out of town, kids pretending to be grown-ups, mixing cocktails in martini glasses, drinking beer from crystal tumblers. Doug had met her there. But he was not alone.

The music was blaring and she would have heard it from the scene of the attack. The playlist was full of pop mega hits, the ones she said she knew well, the lyrics the kind that stuck in your head. Even through the music, and the muted laughter that was wafting from the open windows, she would have heard the other sounds that were closer, the depraved sighs of her attacker, her own guttural cries.

When he was finished and had slipped away into the darkness, she used her arm for support, lifting her face from the brush. She might have felt then the air hit the newly exposed skin of her cheek, and when it did, maybe she had felt that her skin was wet. Some of the brush on which she had been resting stuck, as if her face had been dipped in glue that had since begun to dry.

Propped up on her forearm, she must have heard the sound.

At some point, she came to sit upright. She had tried to clean up the mess that was all around her. With the back of her hand, she wiped her cheek. Remnants of dried leaves fell to the ground. She would have then seen her skirt bunched up around her waist, exposing her naked genitals. Using both hands, it seems she got on all fours and crawled a short distance, possibly to retrieve her underwear. They were in her hand when she was found.

The sound must have grown louder because eventually it was heard by another girl and her boyfriend, who had sought privacy in the yard not far away. The ground would have crackled and popped beneath the weight of her hands and knees as she again crawled toward the perimeter of the grass. I have imagined her crawling, the inebriation hindering her coordination and the shock freezing time. I have imagined her assessing the damage when she finally stopped crawling and came to sit, seeing her torn underwear, feeling the ground against the skin of her buttocks.

The underwear too torn to wear, everywhere sticky with blood and dirt. That sound growing louder. Wondering how long she had been in the woods.

Back to her hands and knees, she began to crawl again. But no matter how far she moved, the sound grew louder and louder. How desperate she must have been to escape, to reach the soft grass, the clean water that was now upon it, the place she had been before the woods.

She moved another few feet before stopping again. Maybe it was then that she realized the sound, the disturbing moan, was inside her head, then in her own mouth. The fatigue came over her, forcing her knees, then her arms, to buckle beneath her.

She said she had always considered herself a strong girl, an athlete with a formidable will. Strong in her body and her mind. That was what her father had told her since she was a little kid. Be strong in your body and in your mind, and you will have a good life. Maybe she told herself to get up. Maybe she ordered her legs to move, then her arms, but her will was impotent. Instead of taking her back to where she had been, they curled up around her battered body, which lay upon the filthy ground.

Tears falling, voice echoing them with that horrible sound, she was finally heard and then rescued. She has asked herself again and again since that night why nothing she had inside her—her muscles, her wit, her will—had been capable of stopping what happened. She couldn't remember if she tried to fight him, screamed for help, or if she just gave up and let it happen. No one heard her until it was over. She said she now understands that in the wake of every battle, there were left conqueror and conquered, victor and victim, and that she had come to accept the truth—that she had been totally, irrevocably defeated.

I couldn't say how much of this was true when I heard it, this story of the rape of Jenny Kramer. It was a story that had been reconstructed with forensic evidence, witness accounts, criminal psychologist profiles, and the disjointed, fragmented scraps of memory Jenny was left with after the treatment. They say it is a miracle treatment—to have the most horrible trauma erased from your mind. Of course, it is not magic, nor is the science particularly impressive. But I will explain all of that later. What I want to express now, at the beginning of the story, is that it was not a miracle for this beautiful young girl. What was removed from her mind lived on in her body, and her soul, and I felt compelled to return to her what was taken away. It may seem the strangest thing to you. So counterintuitive. So disturbing.

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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