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Cathleen Lynn Boyle
A Forever Story
A Forever Story is based on true events that were recorded in journals regarding the life and senseless date-rape-drug murder of a young college student in the late '90s in San Francisco, California. A Forever Story is narrated from several points of view, including the ill-fated protagonist. The central themes include love, loss, death, despair, injustice, revenge, and suicide. The story also explores impermanence in term of what it means to die to one's hopes, dreams, beliefs and desires,.
Based on real events, Boyle’s fictionalization of her daughter, Skylar’s, death by GHB poisoning follows Sofia O’Brien, a student at San Francisco’s College of Marin in 1998. Sophia has a chance encounter with the married-but-separated Dr. Luke James Du Bois after injuring her wrist, and they begin dating. On April 4, 1999, Sofia and her friend, Bella, meet up with her former on-again-off-again romantic partner, rapper Aamon Painter, and his friends. Sofia is rendered unconscious and dies after ingesting GHB; Bella lingers in a GHB-induced coma for 15 years. Fast forward to 2014, when prosecutor Nicole Du Bois, the now ex-wife of Dr. Du Bois, prosecutes a second-degree murder case against Aamon and Jesse for the drugging, with Bella’s help. Sofia’s brother Finn and mother Ellie stay in San Francisco for the trial and wrestle with the question of whether or not to take justice into their own hands.

Boyle’s characterization of Sofia as a talented, caring young woman magnifies the tragedy of her death. The use of flashbacks within the novel, beginning with Ellie’s presence in 2014 San Francisco and traveling back to the circumstances surrounding the catalyzing event in 1999, expertly captures the devastating impact on Sofia’s family and those who loved her. The author capably moves between the two time periods, which are clearly delineated in the narrative.

Despite occasionally awkward prose (“He’s worse than criminal, for he only masqueraded as law enforcement, Nicole cogitated” about a shady cop), the portrayal of emotional turmoil experienced by a mother facing her daughter's untimely death is spot-on, highlighting Ellie’s quest to find justice for her daughter while noting the impact it has on her own physical and mental health. The suspense surrounding Ellie’s plans to shoot Sofia’s killers if justice is not forthcoming via legal means propels the novel swiftly forward toward the climactic conclusion. This tragic book brings to painful life the ripple effects of a death.

Takeaway: In this tragic novel, a mother pursues justice for her daughter, killed by GHB poisoning.

Great for fans of: R. Read She Too, Lois Duncan’s Who Killed My Daughter?.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A