“Even now, after a bad day, I can lie awake and relive those memories and it’s all as vivid as ever: the colour and the joy, the anticipation, the love that brings tears to my eyes… But a blessing? Imagine the moments that broke your heart and crushed you flat. A loss, a humiliation, a betrayal. Imagine every slight, every rejection, every disappointment, all kept polished for safekeeping in a little chest inside you.”
Set to be released on 1st October, I Know What I Saw by S.K. Sharp follows Nicola, a woman with a peculiar gift: she can remember everything. Only a handful of people in the world have a truly perfect memory, and Nicola is one of them. But her condition proves to be more of a curse than a blessing, especially now that a body has been found on the estate she grew up in. Nicola remembers the night that the man went missing with perfect clarity, but she never discovered the truth of what happened. Now, she must use her ability to save the man she loved from being wrongly convicted of the crime.
Thank you to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I Know What I Saw is an intriguing thriller with a unique concept. Its lead character has a condition called hyperthymesia which means she can remember every single thing. But now her memory is put to the test. She may know the basics of how the events of that night played out, but she doesn’t understand them.
It’s such an absorbing story, as Nicola must piece together her own memories–which she’s certain are fact–with those of her friends, family, and neighbours, to try and figure out what really happened on that night over thirty years ago.
As we experience events through Nicola’s narration, the story progresses quickly making this a swift and enjoyable read. I wouldn’t say that I was gripped, but it certainly kept me reading through at a fast pace out of pure interest. The narration feels like the workings of Nicola’s mind which is what keeps it rapidly developing, but this also means that the truth is relayed in quite a fragmented way, which is a little frustrating at times as you are only given snippets of information at a time. But you know that these small bits of information will eventually build-up to the full picture, and the truth is definitely one that I didn’t see coming.
Nicola is a difficult character to like because she’s not only caught up in her past, she’s stuck there. Because of her condition, she must constantly relive the memories of her parents’ possible divorce brewing in her childhood home, as well as the emotional rollercoaster of the relationship with her first love, from the butterflies of their first kiss to a later betrayal of the heart.
Nicola can remember every single feeling of happiness and excitement in her life, but also every feeling of sadness, heartache, and fear, so I did feel some sympathy for her as it’s an impossible situation to imagine yourself in. Nicola can’t get over Dec because she still vividly remembers what it felt like to fall in love with him, and she isn’t close to her mum because she still feels the distance between her parents, despite her more recent apologies. It’s a harsh reality, one that the book cleverly uses to centre its story around, but one that I think could have been better emphasised to get us to relate to Nicola more and in a more empathetic way.
While it’s this concept that makes I Know What I Saw such an intriguing read, what I liked most about this book is how it got me thinking about how we remember things. Our memories aren’t always the same as those belonging to others involved. We experience things differently to how others perceive them, often remembering events through the tint of our emotions at that time, which is what brings in some of the book’s twists and turns.
I Know What I Saw may not have shocked me in any big way, but it was an entertaining read with many stimulating ideas. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for more of S.K. Sharp‘s work in the future.