Book Review: Not Forgotten by Donna M. Zadunajsky

Barren Tree Church Flyer and CD TemplateTitle: Not Forgotten
Author: Donna M. Zadunajsky
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Rating: Did not finish
Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

Twenty-six years later, Deanna Iris and her son move back to the town she grew up in, back where her secret began and where her life changed forever.

Unpacking boxes, she receives a call from Officer Bates stating that her sister and son were in a car accident and are in critical condition. Upon arriving at Mendota Community Hospital, she is approached by Officer Bates, who takes her in to see them.

Sitting with her son Brent, who is unconscious, and her sister Shelia, who suffers from a head injury and is in a coma, Deanna meets their doctor for the first time. Is it Dr. Sheldon’s face that reminds her of someone she knew? Could it be possible that her dead daughter from twenty-six years ago could now be alive?

After meeting with a friend who knew about her secret and who is later found murdered, Deanna receives a note in her mailbox telling her to get out of town before what happened to her friend will happen to her. What transpired all those years ago and who is this mysterious woman she sees as she drives by her sister’s house? Will Deanna ever allow herself to be loved? Or will searching for the answers to her past lead to her death?

Not Forgotten had a good premise, but failed to deliver in almost every way. This book needs some serious editing.

As for the plot, main character Deanna moves back into the house she grew up in. Ever since a faithful nigth when she was a teen, her family has never been the same, and she wants to get to the bottom of what happened. There’s some murder and mayhem, and terrible secrets in the past. So far, so good.

But the characters are flat and one-dimensional. We never get a good descrption of any of them, and we never figure out a lot of personality traits about them. Deanna is about as interesting as  cardboard figure.  The dialogue is unnatural, stiff, and sometimes completely unfitting.

But the absolute worst has to be the editing. The book reads like a first draft, like nobody ever bothered to polish it up. The tenses switch every other sentence. Example:

The kitchen sat in the far rear of the house, with the garage off to its side. I can picture my mother cooking us meals aand baking cookies and pies. 

About a page later:

“He’ll love our school”. Her smile faded, becoming a frown. I know she still blames me for our moving, but hope one day she will forgive me. I nodded.

Then there’s all the telling instead of showing. Usually I barely notice these, but they’re so bad I had no choice but to notice them here. Some examples:

I could feel the heat against my skin.

I heard the car door slam shut.

I felt as if someone was watching me so I began to search the room and then looked out the window above the sink.

I watched her wipe the tears sliding down her face.

Then there’s the overload of passive verbs, and the overuse of ‘said’.

I was shaking. “I can’t lose him,” I said. 

“No, I said shaking my head, in part to clear the haze of despair that was beginning to set in.

All those examples are from the first 20 pages, so you know what you’re up against. It goes on like this through the rest of the book. Telling instead of showing, passive verbs, some weird verb use, tense confusion, etc.

I wish I could’ve enjoyed the story, but the lack of editing kept me from fully focusing on it. Every time I became emerged into the story, I was thrown out of the narrative by one of the aforementioned editing flaws. These flaws, along with the flat characters, make the story impossible to read.

After three years of reading and over 300 reviews, this is the first book I had to give up on. It pains me to say so, because I don’t like giving bad reviews, and because the story definitely had potential. But this one was a “did not finish” for me.

If the author finds a good editor and has the book edited again, I’d gladly take a look. Until then, definitely not recommended.


  1. Lauren Smith says

    The story line and plot sounds amazing. Poor editing make it a complete turn off for me. Thank you for the honest review. I recommend a new book out called, “Chasing A Miracle” by author Eliot Hartford Bailey. The concept put forth in the book is very engaging and relevant, if forces you to reflect on the common feeling everyone has that ‘everything happens for a reason. It is well written and griping!

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