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The Forgetting Time

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Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah's single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now - and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought - I'm not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn't care - something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he's found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for seven years - and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Sharon Guskin has written a captivating, thought-provoking novel that explores what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between. In equal parts a mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, The Forgetting Time marks the debut of a major new talent.

357 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2016

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About the author

Sharon Guskin

7 books513 followers
SHARON GUSKIN has been a fellow at Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Blue Mountain Center, and Ragdale, and has degrees from Yale University and the Columbia University School of the Arts. In addition to writing fiction, she has worked as a writer and producer of documentary films. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons. THE FORGETTING TIME is her first novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,413 reviews
Profile Image for Jennifer Masterson.
200 reviews1,112 followers
May 1, 2016
4.5 Stars! Not only is "The Forgetting Time" by Sharon Guskin a very good debut novel, but it is also completely fascinating! If you are at all interested in reincarnation you MUST read this book, or If you just like a well written mystery you should think about reading this book! I couldn't get enough of it!

Noah is a four year old giving his single mother, Janie, a very hard time. He is even thrown out of his pre-school for his behavior. He thinks he has another mother and he is afraid of water and bathing. Janie takes him from psychiatrist to psychiatrist until she has pretty much exhausted all her finances. She comes upon Dr. Jerome Anderson from Connecticut. Dr. Anderson studies children who believe they have experienced passed lived. He is writing a book on it. He along with Noah and Janie go on a treck searching for answers to Noah's mystery.

What impressed me most about this book is that there are actual quotes from a book about reincarnation called "Life Before Life" by Jim B. Tucker.

This is a very emotional read so have plenty of tissues on hand. Each character has or is going through sadness. Dr. Anderson has a form of dementia and is still reeling from the death of his wife. Every character in this book is fleshed out and real. I think this will stay with me for a very long time.

I listened to the audio version. There are two narrators. One was better than the other, but the audio is still good.

Highly recommended!!!
Profile Image for Amanda.
106 reviews57 followers
June 4, 2018
"But surely we all carried some little piece of each other inside of us. So what did it matter, whether the memories belonging to her boy existed inside this other one? Why were we all hoarding love, stockpiling it, when it was all around us, moving in and out of us like the air, if only we could feel it?"

Four year old Noah Zimmerman is Janie's whole world, but his mother has to struggle with Noah's behavioral issues and precocious nature. Noah seems to know things for which there is no logical explanation, he has an inexplicable phobia of water, and he even tells Janie that he wants to go home to his mama. When things reach a critical point at preschool, Janie is forced to seek professional help for her son.

Dr. Anderson is a former professor of psychiatry and has spent his life documenting paranormal phenomena. He has recently been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a neurological condition that would eventually rob him of his ability to remember vocabulary and communicate. Dr. Anderson decides to devote himself to finishing his book.

Janie seeks out Dr. Anderson in a final attempt to find answers for her son. Noah's case becomes the all important U.S. case that will help him complete his book. Together the trio searches for the answers that will irrevocably alter the lives of everyone involved.

This novel with its shimmering, pearlesque cover is a compelling debut for author Sharon Guskin. The story is suspenseful, and I was captivated by the premise and exploration of reincarnation. 4.5 stars!

Many thanks to the author for my wonderful autographed copy!
Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,080 followers
March 23, 2017
3.5 stars

Reincarnation is a Latin word, meaning "entering the flesh again."

The forgetting Time is an interesting and throught provoking novel exploring the idea of reincarnation and is also a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a child.
I picked up this novel on audio as was looking for something interesting to listen to and while I prefer Non-Fiction on Audio I was intrigued by the idea of reincarnation as brought up a Catholic reincarnation was a idea which I remember discussing in religion class but was quickly dismissed as not of the Catholic faith and therefore not up for discussion. How things have changed in today's religion classes as religion classes in school explore and discuss all different religions and young people have a better understanding of each other faith and beliefs.

While this is a fiction story it is well presented and the ideas explored certainly gave food for thought.
I kept thinking how would I deal with the situation presented to Janie and her young son Noah, would I have accepted the doctors diagnosis or took the road that Janie travelled. I found myself wondering who would I have been in a past life?

The Characters were well drawn and interesting and I especially liked the character of Anderson.

The performance of the narrators were very good and I enjoyed listening to this one. However one thing annoyed me in the story was the term " Mommy Mom" (thats just my silly niggle).

An interesting and thought provoking book.
Profile Image for Victoria.
412 reviews316 followers
September 3, 2016
You only live once. That’s what people said, as if life really mattered because it happened only one time. But what if it was the other way around? What if what you did mattered more because life happened again and again, consequences unfolding across centuries and continents? What if you had chances upon chances to love the people you loved, to fix what you screwed up, to get it right?

The subject of reincarnation fascinates me, I don’t so much believe it as I believe in the possibility of it. I lost my beloved dog Avedon a couple of years ago, I still mourn the loss, he was my constant companion, he came into my life at a crucial time, he changed me, he was as human as a dog could be. One of the last things I said to him was that if he decided to come back, he should give me a sign. So when I got a call about a litter last July, I said no thanks, I’m full up with two dogs right now, ailing parents, blah, blah, worst possible time to get another dog. And then she told me the litter was born May 26, Ave’s birthday, and she had a male and then I met him and that was all she wrote. Suffice it to say, I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out if Avedon is in my puppy.

Why do some people believe ESP inherently more likely than that some fragment of consciousness might continue in some fashion after death? This never would have happened in India…they understood that life unfolded the way it unfolded, whether you liked it or not…one life ended, a new one began, maybe it was better, maybe it wasn’t, they accepted this…with a resignation that was like simple good sense.

So when I started this book I was all in and then quickly became disenchanted. The writing annoyed the hell out of me, mired in metaphor, too many forced phrases (‘the gas lamp flickered in the wet March mess like a beacon of far off sanity’) and I kept stumbling over these tortured sentences which took me out of the story and that really bugs me, but it’s my book club’s selection and damned if I wasn’t going to finish it. And somewhere about the halfway mark it becomes something else, pieces start coming together, metaphors mercifully limited, and I flew through to the satisfying end.

How would you react in the face of the impossible? That’s what the mothers in this tale explore, come to terms with and try to understand, how do you face what your mind can’t absorb. It’s also what the psychologist, an academic, tries to comprehend, how does he close the chapter on his life’s work, how does he find a way to make the effort worth it in the face of a debilitating condition? What I found the most intriguing about this second half, the half that made this book worth reading, is that it explores depths of emotion and philosophy, while revealing aha moments and speeding to its eventual conclusion.

From a discussion standpoint, I think this book will make for lively conversation, its themes and character development ripe for exploration. As entertainment, I feel that the story was a bit disjointed, it was several things at once and I wish an editor had reigned in the florid writing in the first half. All that aside, for me the theoretical overtones of the psychologist’s ruminations were what elevated the novel. Does consciousness survive death and does that then make this world more like a dream with each life flowing one after the other? And the karmic ramifications across time, is there a connection between the kinds of lives people led and their next lives? These thoughts are deeper than the actual book, but for me, the saving grace.
Profile Image for Fazeena Wahid.
2 reviews4 followers
November 19, 2015
I was drawn to this book the moment I saw it on my coworker's desk and it didn't disappoint. Such a page turner, I enjoyed this book thoroughly! You know you're reading a great book when you hide from your toddlers to finish a chapter or two :)
A book anyone especially a mom can relate to, what lengths would you go to to help your child? A heart warming story and a journey you'll feel you're a part of all the way with a delightful outcome :)
Profile Image for Ioana.
274 reviews341 followers
March 1, 2016
From the blurbs/reviews, I was expecting a creative quirky story about time and human memory via a fantastical tale of reincarnation. Alas, it was not to be: The Forgetting Time is a mediocre book that does far too much "telling" and is in no way inventive in its structure or the ideas presented. Not only that, but instead of treating reincarnation as a fantastical/mythical allegory, Guskin seems to actually take reincarnation seriously as "science", quoting at length from Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives .

Synopsis: A difficult young boy remembers a past life. A doctor who is nearing the end of his life meets the boy and sees in him a perfect case of "reincarnation". The boy, his mother, and the doctor seek the prior personality. They find this "other family" and help police to solve the disappearance case of this other (now passed) personality.

The story is neither here nor there - I can see how it could have been good, in the hands of a more skilled, creative, skeptical writer. But, as it was, I just could not stomach the writing. Much of the time, it's not terrible, but sometimes, stuff like this happens:

"Feel like I know u already. Weird?"
"No!" she texted. "Same here!" (Was this true? Maybe.) Should she xo? Or was that too forward? She settled for a single x. He responded immediately: "XXX!"
Oh! She felt a current of heat run through her body, as if she'd swum into a warm patch in a cold lake...

So, yeah. Then, there's the writing style, which is 80% telling and almost as much telling about emotions. Basically, half the book is Guskin describing the feelings of her characters. In my opinion, this weakens the story tremendously: the point of fiction as I see it is to spur and inspire me to imagine beyond the written word, and Guskin leaves no space for that, because every single character's thought is dissected thoroughly, as the reader is exhorted to feel a particular way. That just doesn't work for me: telling me how someone feels won't make me feel it. SHOWING me the situations they are faced with has a much higher success rate in achieving this purpose.

Lastly, Guskin's perspective, seemed, to me, a bit superficial, not least of all due to her focus on feelings. Now, I don't think there is anything wrong with feeling things, but I do believe, along Buddhist lines, that feelings are but a superficial mood layer we get caught up in. There is a clarity and depth one can gain by stepping back from the powerful influence of un-modulated feelings. This is why they say, "think before you act" (in the "heat of the moment" is implied). This is also how humans are able to live, more or less, in organized societies (i.e. most of us don't go around blurting out our true feelings to our boss, or don't let our feelings determine the outcome of research, etc. We know there are "limits" to how thoughtful we can be while mired in a torrent of "feelings"). So, Guskin's characters, always caught up in a desperate, overwhelming, very needy whirlwind of emotions, did not appeal to me at all.

I am giving this book 2 stars instead of 1, because I do see why it may have broad appeal, especially to grieving (or non-grieving) mothers. This book is basically about one mother's hardships in raising a "difficult" child alone, and about another mother's grief at losing her son. The absolute gut-wrenching details of these difficult situations are described in depth. I am not a mother, but if I was, and if I had just lost my baby (or maybe if I was just afraid of losing my baby, i.e. if I was a mother) - this book may appeal to me on a much more "emotional", raw level. I can see myself, in that situation, crying through every page at the excruciating detail of other mothers' grief, and I can also see this book working to help me feel a little bit less alone. Perhaps, in that case, I would be rating this as a "5".
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,323 followers
February 23, 2016
The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry lifetime after lifetime.”

----Alex Collier

Sharon Guskin, an American author, pens her debut book, The Forgetting Time that narrates the story of a four year old boy who constantly asks his single mother to take him to his real mother after his nightmares. For his mother, the boy seems like making up imaginary stories, until when things get serious in his pre-school, she thinks that there is something terribly wrong with his little boy and she fears that she might lose her son to someone else when a doctor enters their lives.


Noah is four and wants to go home. The only trouble is he's already there.

Janie's son is her world, and it breaks her heart that he has nightmares.
That he's terrified of water.
That he sometimes pushes her away and screams that he wants his real mother.
That it's getting worse and worse and no one seems to be able to help.

In desperation, she turns to someone who might have an answer - but it may not be one she's ready to hear.
It may also mean losing the one thing she loves more than anything.

Noah is four years old and right after his nightmares in the middle of the night, he asks his mother, Janie, who is a single parent, that he wants to go back to his home, especially to his real mother. Every night it's the same story, Janie thinks that his son is making up imaginative characters in his head. But things changes, when she gets a call from his pre-school where the principal says that Noah is talking about guns and Harry Potters books, but the only problem is that Janie has never bought Noah any Harry potter books or never ever let him watch anything about guns in the TV, but then how a 4-year old possesses so much knowledge about these things when he has never been exposed to? Enters Professor Jerome Anderson, who is diagnosed with a rare form of Aphasia, which might make him dumb in the long run, but he is in a hurry to finish his book and make a name for himself, mostly, he needs to finish his research about reincarnations. Will he be able to find a new case and put an ending to his book as well as to his research of so many years?

The author's writing is fantastic, layered with enough suspense that kept me hooked to find out what actually is wrong with Noah. The story builds up pretty tightly without any single hint about the mystery behind Noah's pleads. The narrative is engaging but at times, it felt like diverting from the main story line. Since the story is an emotional one, the author have depicted heart-felt emotions which have power to move the readers. Moreover, the story will let the readers' heart syncopate with the pain, grief and loss over someone you love.

The chapters are divided between mainly Janie and Professor Anderson's POVs, but that doesn't make it difficult for the readers to contemplate the story with their own perspectives. The characters are flawlessly created by highlighting their strong and weak points, especially their deep, evocative emotions. Janie's fears for her son will actually keep the readers glued and will definitely keep them from turning the pages of the book till the very end.

Janie is brave and an extremely caring mother, for her, her son is her only priceless possession, and she would do anything to make him better. Anderson is running out of time and is in a race against his diagnosis and is extremely dedicated to find a cause to Noah's behavior, moreover, Anderson is haunted by his late wife's memories, which is beautiful yet tragically projected in the story line. Noah will make the readers fall for his sweet and witty demeanor and his character is so developed with so much depth, that it feels like rooting for him till the very end. There are also some supporting characters which play an important role to this mystery, that are also quite well-developed with enough emotions and pain.

In short, this is an intriguing book with an equally fascinating and riveting mystery that will enlighten the readers' minds by keeping them glued till the very end.

Verdict: Please don't miss out this gripping mystery which will empower your brain not only with the concept but also with the characters.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Sharon Guskin's publicist for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,723 reviews6,664 followers
September 20, 2016
We've all heard the term "old souls", the youthful who are wise beyond their years. The ones who seem to have been through life's journey a time or two already. Have they?

The Forgetting Time is Sharon Guskin's debut novel and she was inspired to write it while working as a hospice volunteer which allowed for several discussions about what happens after death. Thomas Shroder's nonfiction book: Old Souls: Compelling Evidence From Children Who Remember Past Lives came into the equation which sparked that many more questions and discussions. Ms. Guskin's personal interest lead to the creation of her debut novel: The Forgetting Time.

The Forgetting Time is a fictional story about a young boy Noah who experiences episodes of trauma, confusion, and homesickness over a life that is not his. Is he mentally ill? What other explanation is there? The mother is desperate for a different answer. An out-of-the-box researcher is desperate for one more case study. Fate intervenes and the combination of mild suspense, family drama, and mystery begins.

At its core, The Forgetting Time is a beautiful and thought-provoking book. There is a lot going on here though. Multiple storylines include Like I said, there is a lot going on. In my opinion, it unfortunately made for a choppy reading experience. BUT, this topic in and of itself is like climbing Mt. Everest for a first-time author and the outcome is to be commended.

The Forgetting Time engaged me pretty much instantly and kept me invested in an idea that many shrug at and consider more paranormal than anything. Ms. Guskin allowed this idea to be plausible and entertaining at the same time. Throughout this book, she incorporated nonfiction narratives that mirror Noah's concerns to keep her readers asking questions... Could reincarnation be real? If it is real, what does it mean? How does it change how we live our lives? The Forgetting Time is an excellent debut that I am still heavily thinking about three days later. I would recommend it.

My favorite quote:
"You Only Live Once. That's what people said, as if life really mattered because it happened only one time. But what if it was the other way around? What if what you did mattered MORE because life happened again and again, consequences unfolding across centuries and continents? What if you had chances upon chances to love the people you loved, to fix what you screwed up, to get it right?"
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,699 followers
March 1, 2016
It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. Sir Winston Churchill

Sharon Guskin's debut novel The Forgetting Time is a layered, multi-faceted exploration of motherhood, loss, the impermanence of death and the mutability of consciousness.

Janie conceives her son Noah during a brief interlude of mindless passion with a man whose last name she forgets to ask for. But the child who results becomes her every breath, her true love, her reason for believing that she serves a purpose greater than her solitary, work-driven life.

Noah is an articulate, intelligent, physically healthy four-year-old. But something is going terribly wrong inside his fragile soul. He is inexplicably terrified of water and suffers every night from nightmares that leave both mother and son weak with fear. Perhaps worst of all are the daily moments he looks into Janie's eyes—his mother, the woman he calls Mommy-Mom—and asks her, "Is my other mother coming soon? I want my other mother. When is she coming? When can I go home?"

Noah's strange behavior seeps into every corner of their life. He has intimate knowledge of things that Janie has never brought into his life: Harry Potter, guns, reptiles, and a brother named Charlie. When Noah's teacher expresses concern that Noah is being abused at home—after he claims to have been held under water until he passed out—and tells Janie she's ready to call Child Protective Services, Janie starts on a journey that leads her to the darkest of places and possibilities in search of healing for her son.

In clear, evocative and intimate prose, through characters so rich with life and feeling, Guskin presents a wholly original take on the possibility of reincarnation. She weaves the paranormal it into an intelligent, grounded thriller that uses character, not plot twists, to explore the unknowable.

A page-turning, profound, outstanding debut.

Profile Image for Amy.
Author 1 book1,029 followers
March 10, 2016
In less than 24 hours, I consumed The Forgetting Time and I can't recommend this one enough. This is the author's debut novel and it is unlike anything I have ever read before. I don't want to delve too much into it because half of the fun, for me, ended up piecing everything together myself.

It's a bit like a mystery as you try to solve the puzzle of a child's unusual first years of life. The story intertwines with a doctor nearing the end of his career due to a deadly diagnosis and who could be the only one who could make Noah and his mother's life better. What Noah is suffering from is beyond what any parent could comprehend.

Beautiful from start to finish, never a lag, and a lot of food for thought- I guarantee this will be in my top ten this year!
Profile Image for Brandon Forsyth.
884 reviews145 followers
November 8, 2015
I read this book for work, and it's so far outside my comfort zone that I allocated it into my commute reading time, figuring it would be pretty disposable and forgettable. Imagine my surprise when I started trying to take the long way home, stretching out that commute until it was taking over my before-bed reading slot. This is a wonderful book that taps into primal concerns about what happens after we die and how far we would go to help our children and those we love. It reminded me of THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE, in that it used a fantastic (in the plausibility sense) premise to explore the limits of love and understanding, of the way our emotions can trump reason. I didn't come out of the book convinced one iota in the possibility of reincarnation, but it is a fantastic (in the adjective sense) "what if" scenario that is truly captivating.
In the ARC I read, the chapters are occasionally broken up by short extracts from case studies about reincarnation. I kept expecting the author of that book to come into the narrative of the novel. It wasn't until the afterword that I realized these extracts were from an actual nonfiction book about reincarnation, whose author inspired the researcher character in the novel. It's an odd storytelling misstep in an otherwise tightly-told story.
Profile Image for Sheri.
45 reviews10 followers
April 3, 2016
What a dumb book. For some reason, I thought this was going to be more of a thriller. Instead, I feel like the author tried to ram the idea of reincarnation down my throat and make me feel all warm and cozy about it. The characters are one-dimensional and irritating, the plot is disjointed and disorganized, and the writing is sophomoric. I cannot understand why this book has any good reviews. I kept reading because I thought the idea behind the book sounded interesting. Surely it was going to get better? Um, no. Unfortunately, the author mutilated it. Don't waste your time.
Profile Image for Kelli.
844 reviews391 followers
June 17, 2017
Though I liked the premise here, I really struggled with the audio. The story itself lost steam at some point after the middle, but that point was where I connected most with it. I almost stopped listening through much of the beginning as the audio voice was very distracting for me and I felt like the beginning dragged on in a vague manner that didn't hold my interest. Also, I fully expected the book to end with . 2.5 stars
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
March 25, 2023
Started very strong and compelling, but lost steam somewhere in the middle. The writing also got clunky in parts, with the author repeatedly telling us how the characters felt-- the same feelings repeated with a new metaphor --instead of showing.

It is also surprising that nothing about the blurb or Goodreads genres makes it clear that this is essentially a religious / spiritual novel. I actually didn't mind it, but I feel like some readers could be disappointed if they don't realise that.
Profile Image for Bill.
289 reviews93 followers
May 25, 2017
5.0 Stars

I received a free copy of The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin through the Goodreads Print Book Giveaway program. This is my fair and honest review …

Reincarnation. I have this stubbornly rigid, predisposed, no doubt distorted notion of reincarnation as people returning to life after death as cows, ants, plants or other objects. I find these ideas unsettling to the point that I reflexively turn away from anything on the subject. The thought of returning to life after death as a cow unnerves me and kind of freaks me out!

I loved Life After Life by Kate Atkinson but probably would have shunned the book if I knew the central theme was predicated on rebirth or transmigration or some form of time travel. Because The Forgetting Time was a free book from Goodreads, I felt obligated to read it. I am absolutely thrilled I did … this story was excellent and so very different from my preconceived notions of life after dead after life. It was that good. It felt real!

A four year old boy is the inexorable link between three disparate individuals enduring some extraordinarily difficult and very personal challenges in their lives.

Janie Zimmerman turned thirty-nine in February on the second to last night of her vacation to Trinidad. Before settling in New York where she runs her design firm, Janie and her parents moved across the country following her father’s regional sales jobs until he moved along without Janie and her mother Ruthie. Mother and daughter remained in Wisconsin until Janie graduated from college. Ruthie moved away to live in New Jersey where she died of leukemia. Janie felt like she was from nowhere, all alone, longing for her mother. She met a man on her vacation and after a passionate beach encounter, Jeff (Something, from Houston, did he even mention his last name?) was gone. Janie returned to alone from nowhere.

Denise Crawford lives with her fifteen year old son Charlie on Ashville Road outside Dayton, OH. It has been eight years since her other son Tommy disappeared. Her heart remains heavy and the only difference in the pain of loss is the daily variance of its intensity. Despite the passage of year after year, Denise clings to a vague hope and dream that Tommy will come home. She still posts Missing Child flyers with pictures of Tommy. In her heart Tommy is still alive.

Dr. Jerome Anderson, now sixty eight years old, was married to Sheila for forty two years before she died of heart disease. He still misses her dearly. A gifted psychiatrist with great potential, Jerry took a different path with Sheila’s encouragement, following the evidence of reincarnation, life after death. His research took him all over the world and the cases of children returning from a previous life in places like India, Thailand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Cambodia to name a few, were extremely compelling and seemed to prove the notion of life after death.

Famous in the paranormal research community but never accepted by the traditional medical research community, Anderson continued his work for decades and took nearly five years to write the book on his findings. Publisher after publisher rejected his manuscript until now. The call comes out of the blue, from the literary agent of the top editor in the field who can’t stop thinking about the book. The editor wants to publish the book but insists it be updated with a recent, strong American case. Despite his advance age, the lack of any new cases in the past six months and his recent diagnosis with primary progressive aphasia, Anderson agrees to find a strong American case.

Three very different lives, each burdened with their own unique physical and emotional pain and suffering, are brought together by Noah Zimmerman. Noah is the love of Janie’s life, a product of her passion in Trinidad, an extraordinary four year old boy. Noah could score an entire baseball game despite never being taught how to do it. He knew all about Harry Potter even though Janie never read him the stories. He had an intimate knowledge of guns! Noah also suffered horrible nightmares, had an extreme aversion to water and constantly pleaded with Janie to go home to his real mother.

A desperate internet search and an impulsive trip to Ohio bring together this collection of complete strangers who have far more in common than they ever imagined.

Thank you Sharon Guskin for an amazingly powerful and thought provoking story that still has me pondering the possibilities. As I enter my seventh decade of life, I don’t feel very old at all but the self-awareness of my mortality creeps into my life in such unexpected ways. This wonderful story somehow put me at ease with the uncertainties of what comes next. Each character in the story came to discover closure, peace and the right time to forget.

This story helped me discover my own bit of peace. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for David Reviews.
159 reviews211 followers
February 11, 2016

Noah is four years old and he's been telling his mother Janie, he wants to go home and wants his other mother. Poor Janie doesn't understand, she worries about his nightmares and his fear of water too... where is all this coming from?

Can reincarnation be possible? Author Sharon Guskin brings us The Forgetting Time and writes an absorbing and fascinating tale that asks us that very question. After a one night stand while on holiday in Trinidad 39 year old Janie finds herself pregnant and has baby Noah at home in New York. His strange behaviour begins to concern her and she takes him to numerous child psychologists to see if they can help. But none can suggest an acceptable diagnosis and only offer anti-psychotic medication. His mother is frantic and dissatisfied with that option so she searches the internet herself for alternatives. She comes across a psychiatrist who has been studying young children who seem to recall details from previous lives.

Professor Jerome Anderson is suffering from a rare form of Aphasia which will eventually leave him unable to make sense of words and then not be able to communicate properly. He wants to finish his book, but now time is of the essence. His book on reincarnation is a study of cases from around the world involving youngsters and his publicist suggests he needs one strong American case to make it ready and complete for publication. When he is contacted by Janie he sees a perfect opportunity to find that missing case.

What follows is a intriguing investigation into the possibility that Noah remembers another life and Janie and Jerome take him to the place he says was his old house. When they eventually get there he cries 'this is it' and events become weird and wonderful. The author writes this exceptionally well and interlaces chapters with snippets of cases from a book 'Life Before Life' all adding to the mystery. Cleverly done in this debut novel, as Ms Guskin makes it all seem plausible and who knows what the truth of it really is. A lovely read and thought-provoking ideas wrapped in human drama and emotions. This is a worthwhile read for someone who wants something a little bit different and who can't resist that beautifully tempting book cover. (ARC Received)
Profile Image for DeB.
968 reviews246 followers
August 30, 2016
3.5 stars.... The Forgetting Time is a fast-paced quest to find the reason behind four year old Noah's traumatic episodes where he calls for another mother than Jane and "wants to go home". Desperate, Jane finds psychiatrist Dr. Anderson, who has for years been studying and collecting data for his book on little children who temporarily recall past lives. In those lives, that person suffered an untimely death usually at the hands of another.

The author has made a good effort here, incorporating parts of a nonfiction book "Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives" by Dr. Tucker, which add some heft to the premise of her other-worldly story. Her fictional doctor, Jerome Anderson, is ironically losing his capacity to remember language while he rushes to complete his book on past life memories. His fumbling leads to bad research, with Noah chirping, "Am I going home?" constantly, and wailing inconsolably when expectations aren't met.

Unfortunately, the story's momentum becomes suspended when the author introduces the grieving family of Tommy, still suffering eight years after his murder. Denise Crawford, the mother, becomes a character drawn more fully than anyone else in the novel and supplants the earlier main protagonists. I expect that the intention was to illustrate the chaos and hole left by Tommy's absence, his body never found, so that the "reunion" would demonstrate the healing power of love, from that past life through Noah.

Ah, well... There are eventually a few more high points, many emotional ones and every loose end is neatly tied up. Because of course, this is high fiction when we agree with the storyteller, wonder a little about reincarnation and accept happily ever after.
Profile Image for Steve Payne.
330 reviews20 followers
March 5, 2021
I must be entering a new and wondrous phase in my existence, because if this tosh is what masquerades as ‘a profound meditation on the meaning of life’ these days, I’m gonna become a deep thinking mystical sage.

Skip this short paragraph if you don’t want a SPOILER on the plot. Here it is: A young reincarnated boy remembers his previous life in which he was murdered; well yipadedoo for the police. Case sorted!

These days, if a book hasn’t grabbed me in the first fifty pages it’s booted off to planet Discard. But sometimes there's a more frustrating dilemma for the reader. This is the book which starts off brilliantly but then hurtles off the rails – not knowing where it's going, repeats itself, loses focus, or becomes dull as it’s stretched, padded and bloated beyond its natural length to fill a page quota. But, foolish ole me, having invested so much time in it, I’m loath to sacrifice all those wasted hours and simply have to know what happens, and so painfully, I trudge on.

After a gripping, but as it narratively turns out almost pointless first 120 pages, the book seriously loses forward momentum to digress and ramble down every windy road for observances and comment on current life (because this adds depth of course); plus we have chapters of casefiles from a real investigator (a real person that is with an M.D.) - this is wedged in with a sledgehammer to convince the reader of the basic reincarnation premise; and we also have references to India and the mystical far east (because that adds - eh - mysticism and further depth). All of this tosh and nonsense limpets and barnacles itself around the bones of what this book really is, and would have been better off as - a mildly enjoyable, if somewhat silly, potboiler of a thriller. Instead, it’s drowned under incredible pretentiousness that aims at depth, but fails to wet even the toe nails.

I also have to comment on the disjointed construction. Much of the last two thirds of this book feel like the chapters gusted into the air at some stage and were quickly gathered up before another approaching storm reaches, then hastily thrown back together again willy-nilly. A big clue regarding these issues looms largely in the long lists of acknowledgements at the end of the book. There are thanks to an editor who advised through the ‘many drafts,’ further advisers who ‘supported me through the many incarnations of this book,’ to someone who helped ‘untangle the plot,’ to another person who helped ‘to give this story another life,’ to yet another person who helped me ‘focus this book.’ Mmm… This last person must have been the one gathering the chapters from the above storm.

Added to criticisms of construction and pretension, I would also point to poor pacing. It doesn’t half ramble at times. Just at a moment when you think we’re going to get some forward momentum, we take a detour for yet another trip down Pretension Lane for a visit to Mystic Square, or Casefile Parade; while all of the time leaning out of the window to make more observances and ask banal questions of modern life. Why do people wear caps indoors? Was one I remember. As for being over-written, well, here’s an extract from the bottom of page 291 of the paperback. Here, wracked with guilt over current issues, and by memories of his past, the investigator/writer (and doctor) Anderson searches for a lost child, ‘…the necessity of making it all right pulsed through him, pumping his body full of the harsh, spiking energy bequeathed by the hormones secreted by the adrenal medulla: adrenaline, increasing his heart rate, pulse rate, and blood pressure, raising the blood levels of his glucose and lipids, and sending his brain ricocheting from the wall of the present back, ten, twenty, thirty years.’ With all three pages of advisers who helped with this book, did someone not point out and kindly say, ‘Eh, do you think you’ve just gone a tad over the top there?’ Or was it a case of I’ve done the research, it’s going in?

Lastly, with regards to criticism of the book that is. At the cost of getting on with the story, there’s an all too keen and embarrassingly desperate urge to convince that it’s all beyond question: IT’S TRUE! IT’S TRUE I TELL YOU! REINCARNATION DOES EXIST! Look at all these casefiles and stories I’ve been telling you about. Here’s a quote starting at the bottom of page 338 in which Anderson internally questions a Detective Ludden for believing ESP is more likely than reincarnation for events, ‘…the answer that made the most sense to Detective Ludden was ESP. It never ceased to amaze Anderson. Here was this rational professional man with his sharp-razor intellect and world-weary outlook, grasping at some idea of Noah’s super extrasensory perception as inherently more likely than that some fragment of Tommy’s consciousness might continue in some fashion after his death. A samosa vendor on the streets of New Delphi, a taxi driver in Bangkok, would laugh themselves silly at such naïveté.’ Well, duh! How silly we are! Making a desperate case for one ‘out there’ thing by comparing it to another ‘out there’ thing is where foolishness resides. Get on with the story! I can accept a man walking around a street corner and finding himself one hundred years in the past; I do not need scientific nuts and bolts, and general guff and persuasion on how it could happen. Get on with the story...

But enough about the book. When I finished, I wondered what possessed me to read this in the first place. I foolishly believed some of the hype. I never do it with films, so I’m unsure why I did it here. Not again will I fall for quotes like, ‘Amazing,’ ‘Truly remarkable,’ ‘Unforgettable.’ And best of all, ‘A profound meditation on the meaning of life.’ [Must remember that application to become a wise old sage].

I’m not one for negative and sarky reviews on Goodreads, but this one pushed my buttons. As I’ve stated, there is so much wrong here, but pretension and hype (admittedly not a fault of the author) are key hates for me. We all have different tastes of course. One of my genres is old school horror short stories and pulp stories that were rattled off at a penny or cent a word. I love many of these, but many wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny. If someone told me they’re crap, I’d just laugh and in many cases wouldn’t put up much of an argument. But they, along with their writers (in almost all cases) had no pretensions or illusions to being anything other than what they are. Entertainment. I’m a middle-aged bloke who’s tired (yes, yawn) of many years witnessing ever increasing marketing BS - usually regarding films, but books as well now - who takes an instant dislike to what I (the only person I can speak for) sees as pretentious claptrap. I can only offer this as an excuse for a certain lowness in this review. Writing is hard work, and as I’ve said, I’m loath to be ultra-critical – it doesn’t come naturally. Honest gov!

To end on the mildly positive (and to ease my conscience a tad). There is some gripping writing in the opening 120 pages, and buried within the bloated jumble that follows. A potentially interesting short thriller could have been sieved from the fat. But this was clearly not the intent. Unfortunately, the writer has unwisely tried to put depth and comment onto something which is essentially a popcorn B-movie plot.

What is that I hear from the back? 'You've missed the point, it's not just a thriller. It's a deep and profound story that says much about life today and of things we should enlighten ourselves of...'

Mmmmm, right! The writing needs to be far tighter and focused to make that anywhere near valid; to say nothing of accompanying a more worthwhile plot.
Profile Image for Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum.
964 reviews99 followers
February 15, 2016
If I could give this book six stars (our of five) I totally would. How's this for a teaser:
Noah is four and wants to go home. The only trouble is he's already home.
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin is the story of Noah and his Mum Janie. Noah has nightmares, begs Janie for his real mother and keeps asking when he can go home. Nobody can tell Janie what's wrong with her son despite visiting a whole host of specialists.

This novel covers themes of identity, death, mental illness, the possibility of re-incarnation and children who may (or may not) remember their previous life as well as an overarching theme of a mother's love for her son.

This topic is right up my alley (having read Children Who Have Lived Before: Reincarnation Today by Trutz Hardo last year), and exploring the themes through this novel was a absolute thrill for me. At times I felt The Forgetting Time was written especially for me!

Sharon Guskin has clearly done her research and I knew I was in expert hands. I can't believe this is her debut novel; wow, what a way to burst onto the scene! Her writing is polished, and I admire her for extending the ending beyond what I was expecting. I got so much more out of The Forgetting Time than I thought possible.

I can't wait to see what she writes next and I have no doubt she'll be my favourite debut author of 2016.

Awesome, amazing, I loved loved loved it!

* Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia *
Profile Image for RoseMary Achey.
1,346 reviews
February 28, 2016
This was a “one sitting” novel and I loved every minute of this well written debut! A totally new premise or at least one that I have not read before- the main character, a young boy, has lived a previous life and wants to return to that life. OK…I know what you are thinking right about now…."Not interested, not the book for me”. I thought the very same thing-but so glad I picked this one up. By the end of the first 25 pages I was totally hooked.

I particularly enjoyed the authors timing and tempo. The book moved at just the appropriate pace, providing enough but not too much detail. The characters were each well drawn and each exhibited different personalities. The author’s ending was satisfying and provided the reader with a level of closure. All in all a highly enjoyable title readers will thoroughly enjoy!
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews108k followers
February 2, 2016
Here's another fabulous debut! Janie, a young single mother, is used to her young son being difficult, but when his preschool calls and tells her she has to come there immediately, everything changes. Jerome is a brilliant scientist obsessed with what happens to us after we die and the possibility of life after death. When Jerome meets Noah, he thinks he has found the key. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just tell you that The Forgetting Time is an intense page-turner!

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/category/all-the-...
Profile Image for Laura.
356 reviews102 followers
January 3, 2016
I’d not heard of The Forgetting Time until I spied it on NetGalley and instantly my interest was piqued. For some strange reason (probably cover design more than anything) I was expecting a novel a little like Room by Emma Donahuge but actually, I couldn’t have been more wrong!
The Forgetting Time is impossible to classify. It doesn’t fit into any genre, well, any genre that I know of any way! There are so many facets and threads to this plot that, whilst are all vastly different, work more than perfectly together. There are elements of a murder mystery, aging, death, rebirth, science, family relationships…there are a lot of things that feel like they shouldn’t work together to make a compelling and readable story, but they do.
The basic premise (and I am going to keep this basic to avoid spoiling) centres around a mother and her son. Noah is just four years old but has an irrational fear of water and refuses to take a bath or even wash his hands, he also has horrific nightmares and constantly asks his mum to take him ‘home’ and to see his ‘real mum’. As one can imagine, Noah’s mum, Janie, is completely confused and shaken by her son’s behaviour. He is home, she is his mum. But when Noah starts to talk about things in school that Janie knows Noah knows nothing about, she starts to wonder what’s really going on. Can Noah really be the reincarnation of another boy who died just years before? Janie is sceptical and is unwilling to believe but enlists the help of a degenerating Dr Anderson and together they begin a journey of discovery that will take them both out of their comfort zones and lead them to question their own lives.
So yeah, this was EPIC. From the minute I started reading I knew I was onto something good. Guskin’s writing is so involving and readable that you already feel entrenched in the story after the first page. I read The Forgetting Time in a couple of sittings and even though I’ve now finished it, I can’t get it out of my mind. Guskin has explored a truly fascinating concept and has littered her novel with extracts from Life Before Life by Dr J Tucker. These extracts detail how other children have been born but are inextricably linked to someone who has passed away. In most cases the child claims to be the deceased and can recall in striking accuracy and detail their former life – and, when faced with members of the deceased family, can recognise them instantly and feels as though they are ‘home’. This is very much like her character of Noah who has unexplainable knowledge about things he’s never heard about and believes he has another mum and a ‘real’ home. It was incredibly fascinating to read about Noah alongside these real documented cases. Part of me just feels like it could NEVER happen – surely when we die everything, including our consciousness and our soul dies with us?! Yet these accounts of true events left me perplexed as there seems to be no logical explanation…
What I loved most about this novel, aside from the unique and intriguing premise, was the exploration of the role of the mother. Throughout the book we meet multiple mothers but the one that interested me most was Janie – I adored her character and the way her character developed. As Noah’s mother Janie was dedicated to him and even when he claimed he wanted his other mother or that Janie wasn’t his home, she stuck by him. When Janie gets to a point in the novel where she could lose Noah forever, her selflessness just speaks volumes. Guskin has really played on the role of the mother and looked at how strong the bond is even when faced with a parent’s worst nightmare.
I feel like I’ve already said too much! Argh it’s so hard to review a book when you love it because you just want to shout about everything you loved but I know if I try and explain more reasons why I loved it then I will be including spoilers…damn…suffice to say this is a book you must read this year.
The Forgetting Time is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It is compelling, raises some huge unanswerable questions and plays on your mind long after you’ve finished. A very impressive and striking debut – I can’t wait to read more from Guskin.
Profile Image for Marjorie.
543 reviews54 followers
May 7, 2016
When it comes to reincarnation, I’m like Mulder in “The X-Files” – I want to believe. What a wonderful concept to think that we have another life ahead of us with a second chance to live a better life.

Noah is a 4-year-old boy who lives with his single mom, Janie. She has always thought that he was precocious as he seemed to know about things he was never taught. But his terror of bathing is getting worse as is his longing for his “other mother” and his desire to go home, even when he’s in his own bed with Janie beside him. When the school gets involved, Janie knows that something more must be done to help her child.

Jerome Anderson is a psychology professor who has been diagnosed with aphasia and is gradually losing words and his understanding of language. He longs to have enough time to finish his work researching children who have memories of previous lives. Noah may be the child whose memories can help Jerry finish his work.

This is a book for everyone, no matter what your beliefs may be regarding any type of afterlife. It’s beautifully written and will touch your heart in so many ways. But be prepared to have your mind opened, if it isn’t already, to the possibility of lives other than the one you’re living at the moment. This fictional novel is very believable and contains quotes telling of actual case histories of children with memories of previous lives from the book “Life Before Life” by Dr. Jim Tucker.

This is Sharon Guskin’s first novel and it’s obvious that she’ll have quite a career ahead of her. This book has so many layers to it. It’s a thought-provoking study about reincarnation. It’s a suspenseful murder mystery. It’s a story about the strong bond between a mother and child. It’s the story of a man losing both written and spoken language and facing the end of his life. It’s about the connections that humans have to each other.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Carie.
306 reviews35 followers
December 17, 2017
I rarely give books a 5 star rating. When I do, it is a sure bet it will be a few days before I start another book. It is going to take me a few days to process all that occurred in the story. After just a few pages into this book, I was keenly aware what a special book this was going to be. The Forgetting Time has such a unique plot that tackles a subject matter that I find fascinating. Is there life after death? The author does a superb job developing the characters and creating a page turning story! Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Judy Collins.
2,508 reviews352 followers
February 3, 2016
Sharon Guskin delivers a spellbinding debut THE FORGETTING TIME —a reincarnated spirit of a murdered child –A psychological mystery, with a paranormal/literary twist-- can a piece of us be carried inside someone else?

Janie Zimmerman, finds herself pregnant after a brief encounter (one-night stand) with a stranger, and now, Noah is four-years-old, and begins to experience bizarre behavior, even though highly intelligent. The pre-school and Jane are both concerned. He becomes difficult, and is kicked out of school. He is not crazy. He does not like baths and is afraid of water. He speaks of another mother—he wants to go home to his mother?

Does he have love within him from another person?

She attempts to address this situation by visiting psychiatrists and specialists resulting in draining Janie’s savings and in a tentative diagnosis of early-onset schizophrenia. She is overwhelmed and frustrated. She begins researching specialists, with alternative, scientific, or more "out of the box" thinking.

Dr. Jerome Anderson, a psychologist - has been studying young children who seem to recall details from previous lives. Dr. Anderson has his own problems with aphasia, a form of dementia that involves the gradual loss of language. He has written a book, and needs another case for more history to complete. However, he may not have a lot of time left.

Soon Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves on a journey--knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years - and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Denise Crawford lost her nine-year-old son six years ago. Her life has been torn apart, as well as her marriage. Another bond between a mother and son. How do the two connect?

Quotes and references to: Life Before Life: Children's Memories of Previous Lives by Jim B. Tucker (Author), Ian Stevenson (Foreword) presents the cases in a straightforward way and explores the possibility that consciousness may continue after the brain dies. A provocative and fascinating book that can challenge and ultimately change readers' understandings about life and death.

Was reminded a little of Eight Minutes, by Lori Reisenbichler, The Other Life, by Ellen Meister, The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson. —Reincarnation with a different twist. The belief in past lives and the use of perceptions and knowledge of these to help with one's current life is central to the New Age movement.

Sometimes you have to make the best of what you have. You will fall in love with Noah and the desperate need of Dr. Anderson. From despair, sorrow to hope, and love—a mother who wants desperately to understand.

Two families drawn together by higher forces for an intriguing twist of paranormal. When lines are blurred between two worlds. Memories, meditation, forgetting, connections, and letting go. Strong bonds between mothers and sons. “Focus on the Love.” Love, lost, and found again.

I listened to the audiobook —the presentation was mesmerizing and almost hypnotic, performed by Susan Bennett and David Pittu. The novel proposes many thoughts. What happens to us after death is perhaps the greatest mystery of life. One belief is that we reincarnate; that there is life, after life.

Beautifully written. Look forward to more from this new author!

Profile Image for Linda.
1,406 reviews1 follower
November 15, 2016
2.99 Kindle Special. Heads up, this is a great deal if you have on your TBR list

Four year old Noah has terrifying nightmares with deafening screams, he cries telling his mom that he wants to go home and wants his mama. Janie is a successful architect, a single mom who struggles with the fact that her son Noah has memories from a previous life which didn't include her. After being called to the principals office at her sons school on several different occasions she realizes she must get professional help. There are two families dealing with difficult circumstances, a psychologist diagnosed with a career ending disease, a solved murder and healing of emotional wounds all within the pages of this book. One of the most fascinating and beautifully written books I've read this year, it was both thought provoking and an emotional read for me. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not I think you will be intrigued by this debut novel. I enjoyed the interjections of real life stories of reincarnation.
Profile Image for Ellen.
626 reviews46 followers
November 11, 2015
This book kept my interest enough that I read it in one sitting and finished it at 1:30 in the morning---way past my bedtime! Like Lisa Genova's Still Alice, which informed the reader about early onset Alzheimer's, The Forgetting Time is a fictional exploration of the concept of reincarnation, its history and possible impact on one family. The author did a great job of telling the story of four-year-old Noah, who had memories of another life and a strong need to return to his 'real' family. This isn't a book for everyone, but I enjoyed it and learned a little more about the concept of reincarnation.
Profile Image for Jessica (Jess Hearts Books).
676 reviews386 followers
March 14, 2016
The Forgetting Time is like nothing I’ve ever read before. It’s a book that doesn’t fit into one set genre and is completely and utterly unique. It’s an explosive debut that has opened my mind to a subject that I knew next to nothing about, as this is a book that looks at the possibility of reincarnation.

Noah is an incredibly troubled four year old. He’s terrified of water to the point where he won’t wash and he cries at his mother Janie that he wants to go home, he wants his real mother. But he is home and Janie is his mother.

Noah’s disturbing behaviour comes to a head when Noah starts talking about guns at school. The school give Janie an ultimatum: get Noah professional help or social services will be contacted.

Desperate for help Janie’s search leads her to Dr Anderson – a man who’s seen cases like Noah’s before, but Dr Anderson’s diagnosis is not a simple one to get on board with because Dr Anderson believes that Noah could be the reincarnation of a murdered child from years before.

Janie doesn’t know what to believe but she will do anything if it means helping her son and so Janie, Noah and Dr Anderson embark on a journey that will lead them to answer humanities biggest question, is there life after death?

I think that your enjoyment of this book really depends on how open minded you’re willing to be on the topic of reincarnation. It’s not something I believed in going into this book but I went in with an open mind and ended up being absolutely fascinated by the possibilities, so much so that I ended up researching the subject online.

In between chapters there are extracts from the non-fiction book “Life Before Life by Dr. Jim B. Tucker” that document real life cases of possible reincarnation. They were such interesting true accounts that echoed Noah’s situation and really brought the fictional aspect of this book to life.

Reincarnation aside, The Forgetting Time is a hugely enjoyable mystery that will leave you not sure what to believe. It’s also a touching story about the love a mother has for her child and how far she’s willing to go to help him. There are themes of love, family and relationships – most notably the relationship we have with ourselves as individuals and what makes us who we are.

I was completely enthralled by The Forgetting Time and still think about it now weeks after reading. It’s an impressive debut that gets you thinking outside of the box. Sharon Guskin is an author to watch.
Profile Image for Ashley.
180 reviews14 followers
December 21, 2016
3.5 Stars

This was definitely an interesting book that made you wonder what you would do if you were in the same situation. I've never believed in reincarnation, and this book didn't change my view on the matter. It was entertaining, and the excerpts from Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives by Jim B. Tucker were intriguing. Although it sounds a little messed up to say, I was disappointed in the
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