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
    Jul 2017, 320 pages

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Fairview, as I have already alluded, is a small town. I had seen pictures of Jenny Kramer over the years in the local paper, and in school flyers about a play or tennis tournament posted at Gina's Deli down on East Main. I had recognized her walking in town, coming out of the movie theater with friends, in a concert at the school that my own children attended. She had an innocence about her that belied the maturity she so coveted. Even in the short skirts and cropped shirts that seemed to be the style these days, she was a girl, not a woman. And I would feel encouraged about the state of the world when I saw her. It would be disingenuous to say that I feel this way toward all of them, the herd of teenagers that sometimes seems to have stolen the order from our lives like a swarm of locust. Glued to their phones like brain-dead drones, indifferent to any affairs beyond celebrity gossip and the things that brought them instant gratification—videos, music, self-promoting tweets and Instagrams and Snapchats. Teenagers are innately selfish. Their brains are not mature. But some of them seem to hold on to their sweetness through these years, and they stand out. They're the ones who meet your eyes when you greet them, smile politely, allow you to pass simply because you are older and they understand the place of respect in an orderly society. Jenny was one of those.

To see her after, to see the absence of joy that once bubbled up inside her—it provoked rage in me at all humanity. Knowing what had happened in those woods, it was hard not to let my mind go there. We are all drawn to prurient incidents, to violence and horror. We pretend not to be, but it is our nature. The ambulance on the side of the road, every car slowing to a crawl to get a glimpse of an injured body. It doesn't make us evil.

This perfect child, her body defiled, violated. Her virtue stolen. Her spirit broken. I sound melodramatic. Cliché. But this man ripped into her body with such force that she required surgery. Consider that. Consider that he selected a child, hoping for a virgin perhaps, so he could rape her innocence as well as her body. Consider the physical pain she endured as her most intimate flesh tore and shredded. And now consider what else was torn and shredded as he spent an hour torturing her body, thrusting himself into her again and again, perhaps seeing her face. How many expressions had she given him to enjoy? Surprise, fear, terror, agony, acceptance, and, finally, indifference as she shut down. Each one a piece of herself taken and devoured by this monster. And then, even after the treatment was given—because she still knew what had happened—every romantic daydream about her first time with a lover, every love story that swam in her head and made her smile with thoughts of being adored by one person like no other in the world. It was likely those things were gone forever. And then what was left for a girl as she grew into a woman? The very thing that preoccupies the heart throughout most of our lives may very well have been lost to her.

She remembered a strong odor, though she couldn't place it. She remembered a song, but it was possible the song had played more than once. She remembered the events that drove her out the back door, across the lawn, and into the woods. She did not recall the sprinklers, and that became part of the reconstruction of the story. The sprinklers came on at nine and off at ten, having been set to a timer. The two lovers who found her had arrived in the back to grass that was wet but air that was dry. The rape had been in between.

Doug had been with another girl, a junior who found him necessary to her plan to make some senior boy jealous. It is hardly worth the effort to elucidate the vapid motivations of this particular girl. What mattered to Jenny was that a week's worth of fantasies, around which she had wrapped much of her disposition, had been shattered in a second. Predictably, she began to drown her sorrows in alcohol. Her best friend, Violet, recalled that she had started with shots of vodka. Within an hour, she was vomiting in the bathroom. This had led to the amusement of some others, and then to her further humiliation. It might have been a script from one of those "mean girl" shows that seem to be all the rage now. Except for the part that followed. The part where she ran into the woods to be alone, to cry.

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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