Given its surprising beauty and assured voice, it's hard to believe that When I Forgot is Elina Hirvonen's first novel. While on her way to the hospital where her brother is institutionalized, Anna experiences a moment of recollection so arresting it shatters her world — a recollection of searing pain and madness. Exploring psychological trauma, the boundaries of memory, and the political ramifications of September 11, 2001, When I Forgot offers gripping insights into the universal themes of suppressed pain and, above all, retaining a sense of hope in an increasingly grim world.
The story is told over one day with flashbacks to the past. Anna is sitting in a cafe while she kills time before reluctantly going to visit her brother Joona, an inpatient in a Psychiatrict Hospital.
Anna is a young Finnish woman with an American lover called Ian, who used to be her Professor.
With links to the Vietnam war and its horrors through Ian's father and more recent events in history the story links the mental problems in both the families, so both have an understanding of the problems being experienced now and what they've been through in the past.
The story is well written and moves along quite nicely, it's quite short at just over a 180 pages so a lot is fit into a short amount of space and as such doesn't waste any narratve at all. A great debut novel and an Author to look out for again. 7/10.