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A Clayburn Series by Debroah Raney
by TeenHelp July 3rd 2017, 01:54 PM

A Clayburn Series by Deborah Raney
by Cassie (Cassado)

The Clayburn Series by Deborah Raney consists of three books: Remember to Forget, Leaving November, and Yesterday's Embers. Each book focuses on a journey of a main character in Clayburn, a small town in Kansas. These books can stand alone or be read as a series. The topics of these books include abuse, alcoholism, and grieving. Religion is also a common theme in this series. I picked up Remember to Forget at a secondhand shop and I quickly immersed myself in it. I enjoyed the first book so much that I borrowed the other two from the library. This article will provide an overview and some commentary about each book so you can decide if any of these books are for you.

Remember to Forget is a touching novel about loss, fear, and brighter days. Maggie, a woman in her early twenties, finds herself in an unexpected and traumatic situation that ends up being a blessing in disguise. The novel walks alongside Maggie through her journey of self-discovery. She meets kind hearted people along the way, some of whom have long lasting impressions on her. She evaluates her life and thinks about whether or not she can finally be free from the past. Is she the amazing person everyone sees in her, or is she the self-centered person someone once made her out to be?

Some readers will be able to relate to the situations Maggie faces and this will let them know that they're not alone. Even if readers do not relate completely, the book shows you that everyone fights their own demons whether you're aware of it or not. This book teaches readers that, like Maggie, they can change their lives and their mindset for the better despite their past.

Leaving November centers around main characters Vienne and Jack. Several years ago, Vienne left Clayburn's small town to further her education and pursue a career. Vienne returned shortly after her career fell through and her mother became ill. Jack returned to Clayburn after spending nine months away in a rehab facility for an addiction. Vienne and Jack felt sparks for each other, despite having similar pasts. When the town's gossip turns out to be truthful, Vienne evaluates her past and questions whether or not she and Jack have a future. Does she allow her situation to help her grow, or does she let it hinder her present actions?

Though I do not live with the same addiction Jack struggled with, I have dealt with addiction related to self-harm and I found Jack's thoughts and dialogue to be realistic. I liked each character and I identified with a few of their qualities, but I did have some trouble liking Vienne's character. I saw her point of view, but I sometimes felt as though she was too harsh or judgmental.

Yesterday's Embers is about tragedy in a young family. The loss of Doug DeVore's wife and one of his daughters to carbon monoxide poisoning throws Doug into life as a single parent. He is left to parent five young, grief stricken children while he himself grieves. Things look up when be becomes attracted to Mickey Valdez, his childrens' daycare director. He struggles in his relationship with Mickey because he has not yet grieved for his wife and his daughter. This book portrays the idea of pushing grief aside and moving on too quickly.

I appreciate the topic of this book, as I haven't read a lot on grieving a partner and getting into a new relationship. While Doug did deal with a lot, I sometimes had trouble empathizing with him. I found him to be rude and self-centered some of the time. Towards the end of the book, Doug seeks counseling and I found Doug and Mickey's thoughts on that to be unrealistic. Doug progressed too fast in his therapy and I felt the ending of the book was rushed and wrapped up poorly. There are good aspects of this book, however; my opinion of the ending would not stop me from recommending it.

All in all, I enjoyed this series and would recommend it. Each book follows characters on different journeys; I feel as though people will be able to relate or learn things that they can apply to situations in their everyday lives.
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