Thursday, September 1, 2022

Mhairi McFarlane - Don't You Forget About Me

You always remember your first love... don’t you?
If there’s anything worse than being fired from the lousiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else. Reeling from the humiliation of a double dumping in one day, Georgina takes the next job that comes her way—bartender in a newly opened pub. There’s only one problem: it’s run by the guy she fell in love with years ago. And—make that two problems—he doesn’t remember her. At all. But she has fabulous friends and her signature hot pink fur coat... what more could a girl really need?
Lucas McCarthy has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but he’s also turned into an actual grown-up, with a thriving business and a dog along the way. Crossing paths with him again throws Georgina’s rocky present into sharp relief—and brings a secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows what happened twelve years ago, and why she’s allowed the memories to chase her ever since. But maybe it’s not too late for the truth... or a second chance with the one that got away?

Comment: This is the second book by the author I try, one I happened to see at the library. I liked the other one I've read and this author seems to have catchy plots so I decided to give this one a go as well.

In this story we meet Georgina, a 30 year old who seems to have reached a dead end on her life. She works at a very bad restaurant, despite the fact people keep going there, and as the story begins she is fired, which is bad but nothing she wouldn't imagine would happen. Things ghet worse when she gets home and her boyfriend isn't alone, meaning she is out of a relationship too. And to think she had such promise as a teenager but on her last day of school everything changed for her... 
Nevertheless, quite quickly a friend gets her another possible job and she kind of likes it but again her world changes when she realizes Lucas, one of the bosses, is her high school sweetheart, someone with whom she had a good connection but things ended badly between them...could it be her bad luck never ends? But then, he seems to have forgotten her...

After finishing the book I saw some reviews and many readers criticize the fact this isn't really a romance although it is marketed and labeled as such. I have to agree and while I didn't expect this to be so, I did think we would have  a bit more focus on the romantic relationship but this is actually a story about a woman's empowerment and her realizing she doesn't have to pretend anything, she doesn't have to feel she is guilty nor responsible for others' actions, even if they affect her as well...

Georgina is the main character of this story and we have everything from her POV. She comes across as someone a little flighty, without much direction nor prospects, even though we learn she was a very good student and loved words and wanted to be a writer. She kind of read like many young people out there whose life just took a bad turn for whatever reason and it's as if no sense can be gotten over what one can do with life, she seems lost and her thoughts and memories bring her down all the time.

We know from the start that Georgina had a bad experience on her last day of school. It's hinted at what it could be but while it isn't exactly what one would imagine, it's extremely close to it. Still, what it meant and how it affected Georgina never let her and after leaning something else about her family, caused her to stop trusting herself and putting faith on herself or on others and her life never got on track again. I think that, more than a better job, Georgina is looking for self validation and realizing her self worth despite what she perceives as her flaws and of course her defense of her young self comes at the end of the book, when she admits and shares something from her past.

This is sort of cathartic, for she has to go through a lot until she reaches this conclusion and that means the focus is on her and her self journey. She happens to meet her school sweetheart again and he is clearly the romantic interest but it is true that the romance is very secondary. It is actually a bit more complex than that because some of her difficulties come from the experience she had when they were together as teenagers. We get the notion they were in love with each other but when Georgina tells what happened at the end of the book, we learn the situation isn't as simply as one would think.

As always, easier to have an opinion when it's not something we can say from experience. At the same time, a well chosen moment for them to have a conversation would have avoided this whole plot but in real life, things are rarely perfect either.

As for characterization, Georgina is a likable character but I must say there were moments her sarcasm and attempt to be funny felt a bit flat for me. This doesn't mean I didn't like her or her journey but yes, some scenes I'd change. Lucas is a little under developed, I think. The price to pay for the first person narrator but I wish he could have had a better impact on what was happening, although perhaps that could have diminished the role Georgina plays, especially in how important it is for women to be worth for themselves and not for just the feelings for someone.

Georgina's friends were a good group and even her family story seemed to be a key element to justify certain decisions she makes. I also found some scenes to be funny here and there, but I definitely focus on the more serious parts of the story and felt those worked out well enough.
All in all, a good and solid story, if one doesn't come looking for a sweet romance.
Grade: 7/10


  1. Lucas is a little under developed,

    I really liked this one, thought it was emotional in the best way, but since it was marketed as romance, so disappointed about Lucas' character.

    1. Hi! I think I can understand the romance label being important here and the author has written other stories more romance-oriented. But this makes one think of expectations, isn't it?