How To Be Remembered | Michael Thompson #AUSfiction

Tommy had intended to spend the last night at the old house sweating through three shirts and four pairs of underwear.

I cannot remember the last time I devoured a book in a weekend.

However, Michael Thompson has written an engaging, easy-to-read story with a fascinating premise that I couldn’t put down. How To Be Remembered is the story of Tommy Llewellyn who goes through a Reset every year on the 5th January – his birthday. The Reset means that everybody in his life forgets who he is and all his belongings disappear, except for the items he is wearing at the time.

On his first birthday, he wakes up in his parents house in his cot, but his parents have no idea who he is. All the family photos in the house now only feature the smiling couple, with no baby. There is also no baby food in the fridge and no spare clothes or toys in any of the cupboards. It’s actually quite a heartbreaking moment.

He is sent to an orphanage, called Milkwood House. The authorities cannot find any trace of him anywhere. No documentation, no missing child reports, nothing.

In a crime procedural story this would not be allowed, but after a few chapters the suspension of disbelief has been achieved and we happily go along for the ride. If you’ve ever read and enjoyed Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, you will know what I mean. Of course it’s not possible to time travel or Reset, but if it could happen, then this is how it might work. Niffenegger, and now Thompson, have created a fictional world where slips in time feel real, and it’s not the wonderful adventure we might first think.

Every year, young Tommy puts into practice the script he has taught himself that makes it possible for him to stay in the orphanage after the Reset. Thankfully he has a naturally positive, sunny disposition that allows him to make friends quickly, or in this case, become friends again with his old friends who have forgotten him. There is only one bad year during his teens when the blues hit hard. A year where Tommy feels the full weight of an unfair universe, wondering what the point or purpose is and why he should even bother doing anything if everyone is going to forget everything about him again on the 5th January.

It seems like Tommy is stuck in a neverending Groundhog Day year-long loop.

It takes a terrible accident on the eve of one of his birthdays for Tommy to discover a loophole. A small glitch in the Reset that gives Tommy a glimmer of hope. Maybe there is a way for him to be remembered after all.

At this point, I should declare that Michael Thompson is a friend of Mr Books. They worked together a number of years ago, although I have never met him. Naturally we both want his debut book to do well. I had already decided quietly, that if I didn’t like the book, then I would simply not talk about it here. I was hugely relieved to discover that Thompson had written a page-turning, well-crafted, immensely enjoyable read!

On Goodreads, I saw How To Be Remembered likened to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which is probably fair, but since I didn’t find either of those books un-put-downable, the obvious time slip comparison didn’t pop into my mind.

How To Be Remembered is brimming with optimism and resilience and hopefulness – a quick, easy read to chase the blues away!

Title: How To Be Remembered
Author: Michael Thompson
ISBN: 9781761067518
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Published: 28 February 2023
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 352
Dates Read: 4 March 2023 - 5 March 2023
This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

8 thoughts on “How To Be Remembered | Michael Thompson #AUSfiction

  1. It’s endlessly fascinating for readers and it seems writers to posit different ways that time travel might work. After half a century of reading science fiction I have my own ideas of course, but I’m always willing to suspend disbelief while another writer has a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Time travel stuff is what got me into lighth SF/fantasy in the first place – parallel universes being one of my favourites – Narnia, His Dark Materials followed by good old time slipping – Tom’s Midnight Garden, Playing Beattie Bow…and half the Stephen King oeuvre.


  2. Despite the Guardian’s faint praise (“a proudly earnest first novel”) this sounds a lovely bit of magical realism, maybe even worthy of being classed as a fable, and I for one wouldn’t mind reading this when I’m in the mood for some positivity. (Which is very often these days!)


    1. Yes, I spotted The Guardian review and was a little surprised they had taken on a commercial fiction debut book., but pleased that they were kind. The book is earnest in it’s hopefulness, but as you say Chris, we all need more of that these days it seems.

      Liked by 1 person

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