26 Jan In Memory of Us by Jacqueline Roy
A moving and insightful story of twin sisters growing up in 1960s Britain
First of all, I’d like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on to this blogtour. To begin 2024 reading such a powerful story was a joy and a privilege, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.
Selina and Zora are identical twins, once joined at the hip and still emotionally bound together for ever.
The girls are so alike, they’re nicknamed Selzora. As they grow up together in 60s and 70s Britain, they endure the casual and overt racism of that generation, knowing they are different for more than their twinship, but proud of who they are.
But as they mature, Zora begins to pull away from Selina, becoming closer to their friend, “bad” girl Lydia, a girl who has brains, money, and a talent for manipulating everyone around her.
Now in her 70s, Selina has the beginnings of dementia, and is gradually forgetting details from the past.
What caused her and Zora to fall out with Lydia? What happened to their brother, Cal? Where is Zora now?
Determined to fill in the gaps in her memory, she makes contact with Lydia, who is as bright and brittle and manipulative as ever.
And gradually, a truth emerges that may destroy their new-found friendship all over again.
Selina and Zora are such different girls
This was such a powerful and moving read.
I was wholly engaged from the very beginning by the characters of Selina and Zora, who, though they may look alike, are quite different girls.
Their story is told in a series of flashbacks to the past from both Selina and Zora’s point of view. But their version of events often differs. Who do we believe? We can’t wholly trust Selina, who has dementia, but can we wholly trust Zora either?
It’s a wonderful exploration of the power of memory and how important past events are in shaping the person we become.
It’s also a very thoughtful insight into how dementia affects the mind, and how frightening it must be to live in that twilight world, where nothing quite makes sense.
Racism underpins the twins’ experience
The other important issue in this book is that of racism, which underpins the twins’ experiences and the tragedy that both divided and united them. It’s dealt with sensitively but so poignantly – author Jacqueline Roy has a sure touch in bringing it to the forefront, exploring what it is like to be judged for your colour, without ever turning her characters into powerless victims. Zora and Selina may come as a pair, but they retain autonomy, dignity and self-worth at all times.
I loved this story on so many levels. The plot is excellent, well-paced and dramatic. The structure is exactly what is needed to absorb the reader into the story with Selina. Like her we visit past and present, sometimes more than once on the same page, and it gives a real insight into what it must be like for her trying to grasp at memories, remember names and faces, and keep in sight who she really is.
Selina and Zora’s story will make you laugh, cry and rant at the injustice of a world where racism is still an issue 60 years on.
More than that, it will stay with you long after the final page.
It’s a triumph of storytelling and it has made me seek out Jacqueline Roy’s previous book, The Gosling Girl, which I am already halfway through.
In Memory of Us by Jacqueline Roy is published by Simon & Schuster in hardback and ebook
About the Author
Jacqueline Roy was born and raised in London. Her father was Jamaican, her mother was English and she comes from a family of writers. She lectured in English for many years and also taught crrative writing. She is particularly interested in exploring racial identities and the ways in which those who are marginalised find strategies for fighting back. She is now a full-time writer.
Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers Simon & Schuster for the copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster
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