Just Remember

Young Adult - Social Issues
112 Pages
Reviewed on 06/14/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jessica Barbosa for Readers' Favorite

Em did not expect her life to change just because of one small, after-school detention. It was supposed to be just another day; her mum would be mad that she got in trouble, sure, but she was always mad these days, especially since she was carrying twins and it made her constantly tired. Her parents were going to pick her up after school. It was supposed to be just another ordinary day… until it wasn’t. There was an accident and it took away her dad’s life, her mum’s babies, and the happy days she once knew. To Em, her life has fallen apart since then. After her mum’s nervous breakdown, Em moves in with her Nan. Will she find a new future to look forward to in her new home?

If you are looking for a sweet, heartwarming, and memorable story, then Donna Blaber’s Just Remember is the one for you! This is a story of loss and love, a story of family, friendship, and even a bit of magic. A perfectly paced tale that had my heart in its grasp from the very first chapter and has yet to let go of it. Blaber has created a fascinating young adult novel that skillfully weaves together the elements of real life and fantasy. Em is a main character that I found easy to relate to and I grew protective of her as I read about her struggles after her father’s death. Reading the fourth chapter broke my heart and I wish I could dive into the book and tell her it was not her fault. I admire Em because, despite everything that has happened to her, she still keeps going and pushing forward. Her inner strength shines through during difficult times and I couldn't help but root for her all throughout the book.

Donna Blaber has created such an incredible story! It has a fascinating plot and the story’s setting is so well described that, when I close my eyes, I can almost see myself standing with Em at the base of the track leading to the Mermaid Pools. The characters are also very memorable, each in their own way, and it was hard to pick a favorite among them. The ones who supported Em hold a special place in my heart, especially Nan who stood by Em when Em’s mom couldn’t. Overall, this has been an incredible journey of love and hope. Just Remember is a book I will truly hold close to my heart and I am definitely looking forward to the next one! Outstanding work!

K.C. Finn

Just Remember is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama, emotional writing, and magical realism sub-genres, and was penned by author Donna Blaber. The work is intended for the upper middle grade and lower young adult reading audience and contains references to death and its associated grieving process. Our protagonist is Em, a young girl whose life changes forever when her father suddenly dies, and she must find a path to healing after she has to move and stay with her Nan. With the help of a mermaid, a little magic, and most importantly the power of new friends, Em’s journey is one of understanding and building a new future after trauma. What results is a very engrossing emotional tale that is sure to keep young readers interested and turning the pages from cover to cover.

Author Donna Blaber has crafted an emotional and accomplished work of MG/YA fiction which is perfectly balanced to be accessible to young readers but still totally emotionally sensitive and suitably complex. One of the features which I found particularly impressive about this piece was Em herself and the character portrayal, which keeps a close narrative beside her so that we always understand her emotions, behaviors, and reasons for the way she feels at any given plot moment. From some truly overwhelming scenes of trauma, Blaber manages to grow beauty, peace, hope, and joy, creating a magnificent and uplifting tale that is sure to educate and help children relate to and sympathize with others going through these difficult moments in life. Overall, I would highly recommend Just Remember to fans of well-penned social issues fiction, engaging main characters with great dialogue, and to anyone looking for positive but realistic trauma-related tales.

Jon Michael Miller

In Just Remember, a young adult novel by Donna Blaber, thirteen-year-old Em blames herself for a car accident that killed her father and debilitated her mum who lost her unborn twins. Em had been given detention for talking, which in turn changed the scheduling for her after-school pick-up. The change put her family on the road at the time an oncoming driver was texting and caused the crash. Em is placed in another town with her Nan. Besides her self-imposed guilt, she must fit into a new school where she knows no one and wears clothes that make her a subject of derision. Her only solace is to return to a tree near the beach where she used to sit and talk with her dad. There she finds a special heart-shaped rock and meets a mermaid whom her father once referred to in a story. The stone had been lost by the mermaid, who is searching for it. She needs to use its magic powers to restore environmental health to damaged ocean estuaries. Em’s mission becomes to return the stone to the mermaid.

I was deeply moved by reading Just Remember by Donna Blaber and cannot wait to give it to my 14-year-old granddaughter. Em is a wonderful role model, as are the two friends she meets who go out of their way to befriend her. Working together to help Em in her quest to restore order not only to her own life but to her natural surroundings, they discover the source of the problem and collaborate skillfully to save the local Mermaid Ponds. In so doing, Em spiritually communes with her lost dad. Em is a fabulously drawn protagonist. I also greatly enjoyed the New Zealand beach setting, the place names, and the terms for flora and fauna, which are explained in a handy glossary. Just Remember by Donna Blaber made me put a trip to New Zealand on my bucket list.