It’s funny how some books stay with us. Sometimes it is the cover we remember. Or a specific character or moment. A brief description that stays with us long after the book has been read.
I remember a lot about Christopher Pike’s Remember Me. The cover showing a dead teenage girl sprawled on the patio after being pushed off a balcony, her outfit the epitome of 90’s style. I remember random and specific details of the plot: that she was being chased by a Shadow. That her boyfriend was a scumbag. That her brother almost died from air bubbles purposefully placed in an insulin syringe.
I recently reread Remember Me as part of my Instagram countdown to the release of Gabrielle Moss’s homage to 80s and 90s teen fiction – Paperback Crush – out in October of 2018. It was even more glorious than the bits and pieces that have remained implanted in my memory.
To begin with, the main character (and the book’s narrator) Shari Cooper is given a friggin’ Ferrari as a birthday present. And she doesn’t even bat an eye about how extravagant that is. She mentions that it was expensive and how much she loves it, but give me a break! That isn’t even normal for any decade of teen fiction. I spent more time then I should have trying to visualize her driving it to school. I imagined Shari’s Ferrari chilling in the school parking lot as she sat inside listening to her history teacher drone on about the Industrial Revolution. Later, it dawned on me that Shari might have already graduated. Trust me when I tell you that Shari’s level of schooling is not a key plot point.
In addition to the randomness of the Ferrari, Shari also has some distinct personality quirks. She’s obsessed with the fact that she has blue eyes. Several times Shari pauses the narrative to point out that her eyes are blue, and to explain that her brother Jimmy often thought they were brown. But he was wrong because her eyes are definitely blue.
Blue-eyed Shari is also refreshingly bold about sex and her own sexual satisfaction. Early in the book, Shari takes the time to call out her boyfriend on his premature ejaculation “issues.” Despite his membership to the Two Minute Brotherhood, Shari seems to want to make it work with Daniel. Let’s be clear, Daniel has zero traits that make him a decent human, let alone dateable. I would question Shari’s taste in men, but the ghost boy she hooks up with later seems like a genuine catch.
By chapter two, our imperfect heroine finds herself dead from a push off a balcony following some casual occult dabbling at a party. Yes, you read that right. This book has Ferraris and ouija boards. Shari takes us on her journey of discovery as she comes to realize that she has been murdered. Instead of going into The Light, Shari chooses to stay on earth as a ghost and discover her murderer. With the help of cute ghost boy…obviously.
The Big Reveal of this book is so bonkers and epic! Eventually, Shari learns that she was actually switched at birth, soap opera-style, and her sister is her (not) brother’s girlfriend, Amanda. Oh, and her best friend is her half sister! Sweet deliciousness.
After learning that she was switched at birth, Shari follows the detective working on her case as he finds evidence that proves Amanda was the one that pushed her off the balcony. As the pieces quickly fall into place, Shari literally flies to her house to try and stop her brother from incest and potentially being murdered.
There isn’t a lot of time spent on adequate reasoning behind Amanda’s craziness. I guess she was obsessively in love with Shari’s brother and thought that killing Shari would make the whole switched-at-birth reality an afterthought. People in the know about Amanda and Jimmy really being related would just forget and let them be in love. Sorry Amanda, but no amount of murder would make incest less gross.
What is Amanda’s plan for murder? I am so glad you asked. It involves insulin poisoning and air bubbles in syringes. If Amanda wasn’t a train wreck, this would actually be a pretty flawless way to kill someone and not get caught. But of course she gets caught – but not before a weird Magic School Bus moment has Shari rescuing the day by helping her brother break up the air bubble by literally traveling through his body. After saving her brother’s life, Shari and her ghost boyfriend decide to walk into The Light and start the next phase of life after death.
Overall, Remember Me is a pretty decent entry in the canon of 90s teen horror. Often forgotten, this book shouldn’t be overlooked or lost among the copies of R.L. Stine.