Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: William Morrow
Published: September 2019
Genre: women’s fiction
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?
This is a book I’ve been shoving in everyone’s faces since October, and it’s such a shame I’m only just now finding an opportunity to review it here (although I did manage to tell you it was in my Top Five of 2019). But oh my gosh. THIS BOOK.
An event happened before heading off to university that shaped the course of Georgina’s life. Everyone thinks Georgina can do better, be better, that she doesn’t respect herself so why should others. It’s reached a point where she feels the same, and doesn’t seem to mind it too much—but when a disastrous night waitressing meets a nasty shock with a narcissistic boyfriend collides, Georgina’s life propels forward on a path of figuring out who she is, what she wants, and—(does her new boss at this reopened pub remember her? Is she really that forgetful? She certainly remembers him!)—how to free herself from her past.
The way McFarlane handles grief, friendship, family, trauma, and healing throughout this proper laugh-out-loud novel is absolutely astounding. Here is a dysfunctional, fractured, yet loving family and group of friends loving Georgina through thick and thin, guiding her through a nasty breakup and coming out of an emotionally abusive situation. Here is a daughter burying herself behind self-deprecating humor as she mourns her flawed father. Here is a young woman, standing in front of a young man, wishing she could tell him exactly what happened that night before university, but wonders why she should bother at all because he seems to not remember her anyway. I’m floored. Every little perfection and flaw in Georgina’s character is valid and wonderful—this is a fully developed and realized character, straight to the core, and every character thereafter so completely fleshed out their actions and words made absolute sense for them in that scene. Just…jaw-dropping, genuine authenticity through every page.
This is guilt. This is grief. This is laughter. This is hope. This is trying your best. This is surviving and thriving. This is friendship. This is heartbreak. This is family. This is enough.
Thank you, Mhairi McFarlane. Thank you for this book.