In the fall of 2011 I took a class at Gotham Writer’s in New York City. The instructor Jacob M. Appel recommended I read the author Bret Anthony Johnston since I was interested in writing about skateboarding. In December of 2012 I saw Bret Anthony Johnston answer questions after the New York City screening of the ‘Waiting For Lightning’ documentary on Danny Way. In the summer of 2014 I emailed my former instructor for advice on querying agents, and he reiterated I should read Bret Anthony Johnston.
I requested Bret Anthony Johnston’s new debut novel Remember Me Like This, from my library system and got it in a few weeks. I am glad I read this book, and I recommend it to everyone. The plot line is intense. It starts with a family in Texas and their eleven-year-old son was kidnapped while skateboarding four years before. Shortly into the novel he is found. The novel is written in third person and goes into the thought process of all the family members except for the victimized son. I’ve heard the advice with writing to not hold back on information. This novel proves that is not always true because the tidbits of information are delivered throughout the novel slowly.
The family characters are the victimized son, the younger son, the father, the mother, and the grandfather. Psychologically the characters are well developed and I felt their ordeal gripping. There is also a lot of description, it’s summer and hot on the Texas coast. I just went to a conference and learned not to overdo description, but I feel this gave the reader a good idea of what a Texas town on the Gulf Coast in like.
With the skateboarding themes my work is safe because this is different. The skateboarding scenes in Remember Me Like This are authentic. As a skateboarder my stomach turned when it finally came out how the kid was kidnapped. I won’t give out a spoiler alert but I realized that could happen to a skateboard kid. The skateboarding is the two sons hobby, and is mentioned enough to interest skaters. Johnston does not get into describing tricks or terminology too much. If I ever get to meet him again I’ll ask his opinion on that because in my writing attempt I used skate terminology heavily. In the acknowledgments for Remember Me Like This he lists Rodney Mullen. How cool is that?
Like I should have done in fall of 2011 I’m going to read Bret Anthony Johnston’s short story collection like my good instructor told me to. Lastly, Remember Me Like This really is good. Don’t take my word for it, below are the links to the positive NPR radio review, and the positive New York Times review.