Title: We Came Here To Forget
Author: Andrea Dunlop
Synopsis: (From Goodreads)
Katie Cleary has always known exactly what she wants: to be the best skier in the world. As a teenager, she leaves her home to live and train full time with her two best friends, all-American brothers Luke and Blair, whose wealthy father has hired the best coaches money can buy. Together, they are the USA’s best shot at bringing home Olympic gold—as well as a love triangle waiting to happen.
But as the upward trajectory of Katie’s elite skiing career nears its zenith, a terrifying truth about her sister becomes impossible to ignore—one that will lay ruin not only to Katie’s career but to her family and her relationship with Luke and Blair.
With her life shattered and nothing left to lose, Katie flees the snowy mountainsides of home for Buenos Aires. There, she reinvents herself as Liz Sullivan, and meets a colorful group of ex-pats and the alluring, charismatic Gianluca Fortunado, a tango teacher with secrets of his own. This beautiful city, with its dark history and wild promise, seems like the perfect refuge, but can she really outrun her demons?
Told in alternating chapters, Katie grows up, falls in love, and races down the highest peaks on the planet—while Liz is reborn, falls into lust, and sinks into the underground tango scene at the bottom of the world. From the moneyed ski chalets of the American West to the dimly lit milongas of Argentina, We Came Here to Forget explores what it means to dream, to desire, to achieve—and what’s left behind after it all disappears.
This review contains SPOILERS. Not ones that affect how you read the story, I think, but spoilers if you don't want to know what her sister's secret is. You have been warned.
We Came Here To Forget is a novel about a lot of things, but at heart it's about second chances. Andrea Dunlop asks readers to wrestle with the question: what do you do when your whole world falls apart?
Her answer: flee to Buenos Aires, of course. Full of misfit characters, family drama you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, and bad dating choices, this book is real and raw and leaves you thankful to be alive.
This book deals with what it's like to be witness to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Specifically, what it's like to know that something is terribly wrong and never knowing how to put your finger on it. Dunlop does an amazing job of giving us flashbacks that bring light to this terrifying disorder and how it manifests. We've seen it portrayed in other forms of media as a psychotic break or means of control. But I think what Dunlop does is show how it really doesn't make much sense, and how far down people can truly fall.
In the story's present is Katie (or Liz, as she goes by with her new friends in Buenos Aires). She leaves the spotlight of snow skiing stardom for the anonymous streets of Buenos Aires, taking Spanish classes and leading tours to survive. Her sadness and anxiety seem to evaporate around the colorful and secretive Tango dance group she befriends. Quickly, "Liz" becomes one of the Buenos Aires Lonely Hearts Society, realizing she isn't the only one running away from her problems.
We Came Here to Forget is unsettling, to say the least. There's never a moment where I'm not vicariously anxious for "Liz" and her friends. I can't sit back and devour it like a piece of cake. This is the bitter pill that will make me stronger, a better person having read it. Dunlop's writing, from her very first book to this one, have shown me what it is to be brave. I think this can best be described in my feelings about Gianluca. He reeks of bad news from his entrance onto the page. I don't want "Liz" to fall for him. I don't want this to be a love story. But I keep reading because I can trust that Dunlop will do something with this beginning that I don't expect. And she does.
If you're willing to sit in the uncomfortable like I was, to trust that Dunlop and Katie will eventually show you something invaluable, you'll get to an ending that is full of hope and promise, but not a happily ever after.
"The happy ending is that we all get another chance, another chapter."
I think the point is that life is going to rock us really hard sometimes. Either we will make mistakes or others will really hurt us, but that doesn't mean our lives are over. There will be another chance. You really can start over.
It's up to us to decide how we do just that.