Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Remember Me

They killed her... but she came back.

She did not understand that she was dead.

Remember Me, or "Hangin' With Shari Cooper"
1989, 230 pages

People, Dead
Shari Cooper - killed at a birthday party, wants to know why
Peter Nichols - spirit guide with a secret
The SHADOW - it's coming for you!

People, Living
"Big" Beth Palmone - nickname comes from her large "upper-frontals"
Dan "Spam" Heard - Shari's boyfriend, a-hole
Jo Foulton - occult expert, nicknaming enthusiast
Jeff Nichols - Beth's boyfriend, Jo's crush, and Peter's brother
Jimmy Cooper - Shari's beloved brother
Amanda Parish - Jimmy's girlfriend
Mrs. Parish - Amanda's mother, keeper of the Cooper family home and dark secrets
Mrs. Foulton - Jo's mother, chain smoking nurse, Mrs. Parish's sister
Garrett - alcoholic detective investigating Shari's death

My memory is the pits. I failed to remember anything about Remember Me. Even with the constant reminders every time I've signed into anything online for the last zillion years (you know, that little "Remember me?" checkbox? Ok, I'm bombing. Let's move on.) It's nuts that I forgot it all, because this book has everything (except charades, and you know me: I ain't complainin' about that).

It's jam-packed with séances, chase scenes, and explicit drug use. Secrets of all varieties: regular, dark, and sexy. And more incest than you can shake your brother's jock at, for those people who enjoy that in their YA books. The one thing I did remember was the epilogue, but I'll get to that in about 3000 words. Let's start at the beginning.

Shari Cooper is rich, got a red Ferrari for her most recent birthday, has a boyfriend who she has the option of going all the way with, and is generally happy with herself, her appearance, and her life.

Shari's favourite person in the world is her brother Jimmy. Jimmy's 19 years old, diabetic, and has problematic eyesight that makes him unable to tell the colour of Shari's eyes. (They are bright, sparkling emerald green! And don't you effin' forget it!). Shari shares with us the story of when Jimmy ate too many Christmas cookies and had to spend Christmas in the hospital. Hey, remember the Babysitters Club TV episode where that happens to Stacey?

Shari spends the first bit of the story getting ready for "Big" Beth's birthday bash. And giving us the dirt on her sex life. Which doesn't exist because that one time they tried, Dan was too fast for her. On her way downstairs to leave for Beth's party, she notices that Jimmy is awake in his room. I guess he works really awful shifts and has to sleep at weird times. She goes into his room and tells him to turn off his CRT. I had to look that up, but that's ok. It could be a Jeopardy! question sometime.

So, downstairs Shari finds Mrs. Parish, the housekeeper, and her daughter Amanda in the kitchen. Amanda basically asked her mother to ask Shari to invite her along to this party, even though she hardly knows anyone. Dan comes along to pick up the girls, and - ooooh! - late 80s partying outfits! Shari wears green pants and a yellow blouse, while Dan sports a rust coloured leather coat and white pants. I'll bet he calls them "egg shell".

On the way to the party, the kids pick up Jo. Shari goes into Jo's house where Jo's mother, Mrs. Foulton, is about to leave for work. She's a nurse. She is also Mrs. Parish's sister, making Jo and Amanda cousins. She also hates Mrs. Parish because she had an affair with Mr. Foulton and ruined both of their marriages. She tells Shari to make sure that Jo doesn't take her Ouija board to Beth's party. She must have read Slumber Party recently.

Shari goes upstairs to hurry Jo along. Jo shows her some stories that Jeff Nichols had given her. Jeff's brother Peter, the author of the stories, had died a while ago in a motorcycle crash. The one Jo is currently reading has no ending, but is about a girl who buys a VCR that can tape tomorrow's news today. That one, Pike fans, is called The Eternal Enemy, and I'll tell you all about it in a few weeks.

Jo's got a total Jess Wakefield 'tude about parties. They don't start until she gets there. But Dan drives really fast anyway. Amanda asks if he's always so fast, and Jo bungles the evening by saying something like: "That's what I hear!!!" meaning that Shari had told her about Dan's premature, um, problem. Dan gets really pissy and won't talk to Shari at all once they arrive at the party.

Some of the guests (like, everyone except Shari) had been notified that there would be swimming at the party. Beth's rich-person condo has a pool and hot tub. When everyone else leaves to engage in some watersports, Shari falls asleep on Beth's bed. A while later, Amanda wakes Shari up and tells her that Beth and Dan were naked in the hot tub. Shari's reaction, "Was he fondling her?", is the awesomest.

Jo uses the opportunity of Beth being indisposed in the hot tub to get all up in Jeff's biz. Everyone comes back upstairs, and I'm not sure I understand why, but Shari doesn't confront Dan and Beth. She pretends she knows nothing and carries on with the evening. Jo wants to put people into a trance using magnets and use their bodies as receivers to talk to the universe. Or some equally New Age-y type thing. Beth goes first, and is really spacey when she comes out of it.

Shari is next. Jo tries to make her channel a spirit. Shari plans to fake it, then laugh at anyone who believed it really happened. But she really does get overtaken by a spirit and starts talking as someone else for a few seconds. It seems like it was Peter Nichols, dead brother of Jeff.

She snaps out of it quick, and feels all cold and lonely. She goes out on the balcony alone and suddenly has a sensation of rising, then realizes that she is speeding headfirst to the ground. Shari dies.

Later, she wakes up at home. Her parents ignore her while they take a phone call, wake up Jimmy, and get into the car. They drive to the hospital in silence. Shari is confused and wonders who's sick. The whole family goes to the morgue, where Shari sees her own body and crushed head and realizes that OMG she's dead.

Ghost-Shari leaves the hospital and follows Jimmy to Beth's, where the police are questioning everyone from the party. The cop, Garrett, is major-boozin' it up outta the Palmone family liquor cabinet. Shari watches while Garrett wanders around the apartment and draws the floor layout.

(I took this and that's why it sucks)

When he leaves, she goes to the spot where she'd landed in the parking lot and lays down on the bloodstain. But Shari can't relax. She sees The SHADOW - a cloud-vapour dark, evil thing. She runs and yells for her mother, which allows her to be transported to her mother's room. Mom is in bed crying. Shari tries to hold onto her, and falls asleep.

She wakes up at Amanda's to find Amanda and Mrs. Parish preparing to leave for Shari's funeral. Jo and her mother show up to carpool. Jo is wearing orange pants and an orange blouse. Shari is livid. That's her best friend wearin' that! I went to a rainy day funeral with my gram once and people were wearing random raincoats. Some of them were red. Some were yellow. Some were, like, plaid. Gram went off on a haywire in the car on the way home. She hated everyone who wore non-black/grey colours and prints. It was a cardinal sin for someone to wear a disrespectfully cheerful colour to a funeral service. So I have actually literally heard where Shari is coming from.

She sees her parents and Jimmy up front at the church, but sits with Mrs. Parish in the back. Not a lot of people showed up. There's one guy she doesn't recognize: a young man in white baggy shorts and a red T-shirt. She wonders if it's someone from school who loved her from afar. Haha, sounds like me circa grade 11. Like, sitting in class: "I wonder whose new crush I am today??"

Mrs. P prays quietly with her rosary while the reverend/religious figure does his thing. Shari goes into a trance of religious light until the service ends. Afterwards, she's understandably pissed. Like, no "Stairway to Heaven", no sobbing friends making speeches, and only a handful of people even go to the grave site! She watches her family drop roses onto her casket, then the guy in red and white comes up to her. It's dead guy, Peter Nichols! She hadn't recognized him before!

They have a long conversation about God and the afterlife. Peter encourages Shari to move into the religious light, like when Mrs. P was praying. She only needs to think about it and it will come. Shari got a vibe from the service that everyone thinks she killed herself, and she wants to find out who killed her and clear her name.

Peter admits that he had been at Beth's the night of the party and during the group interrogation, but he doesn't know anything. Shari asks Peter about The SHADOW. He tells her that it imprisons you if you stick around too long after death and it catches you. He agrees to help Shari with her investigation.

Shari suspects Amanda, but it could also have been Dan, Beth, Jo, or Jeff who pushed her. Some of them have motives. It could have been two, three, or even ALL OF THEM WORKING TOGETHER!

Peter tries to teach Shari to transport herself using her mind. She is trying too hard and can't do it. He uses Yoda quotes (for the second book in a row), calls her Shari Poppins, and tries to inspire her with lessons from Peter Pan, Superman, and The Wizard of Oz.

The two ghosts give up on that and take the bus to Dan's house. Dan and Beth are making out, half undressed, on the couch. There's a knock, and Garrett comes in. He starts grilling them about who was where in the apartment when Shari went over the edge. Garrett rips a condom out of Dan's shirt pocket and tells him that if he thinks he's practicing safe sex, he's not even close. What?! Garrett's got a condom problem? What the hell does he recommend using then? I know he's probably old school, but I don't wanna hear "chip bag" or "Coca-Cola douche".

After Garrett leaves, Beth starts crying, and Dan goes to his bedroom where he takes Shari's prom picture out of a drawer and smashes it against the wall. Shari's ok with this. She has to be. She also has to move fast to follow Garrett before she loses him.

Shar and Pete ride in the bed of Garrett's truck to Jeff's house (and Peter's house, when he was alive). Jeff is working on his motorcycle in the driveway when they arrive. Garrett asks him for a beer. Jeff tells him sure, but it's not cold. Garrett is fine with that, saying that he's on duty. Oh, ok. So you can drink on the job as long as you don't enjoy it. Warm beer = non-alcoholic, apparently. Got it.

While Jeff and Garrett are talking, the phone in the garage rings. Jeff answers it and Shari demonstrates a Cool Phone Trick: Dead Person Edition. She simply presses her ear up to the phone/Jeff's head, and of course, he won't notice. Shari hears Jo asking Jeff to attend a 10 PM meeting at her house to talk about Shari.

Garrett soon leaves, and Shari & Peter ride in the back of the truck. He goes downtown to the seedy end of Hollywood, stops at a liquor store, then parks with his binoculars ready. There's a creep in the distance wearing tight black leather pants, an orange Day-Glo T-shirt, and, incomprehensibly, a thin gold chain around his shaved head. I've never seen that sort of get-up before, and it does sound hurtin', but I kinda wanna know what type of chain it is. Box link, curb, rope, singapore? Friggin' figaro? Sixteen inch? Eighteen inch? That could make the difference here.

A girl comes up to the guy and they start making out, causing Garrett to guzzle his whiskey. The chain guy gives the girl a Baggie of white powder and she leaves. Shari recognizes the girl from a picture she saw in Garrett's wallet. It's his daughter!!

For whatever reason, Shari thinks it would be cool to follow the daughter. They get into her apartment, where she is gathering the materials needed to prepare the powder for safe legal tasty human consumption. Syringe, spoon, lighter, tourniquet. Check, check, check, check. It turns out that the girl can see Shari. Peter explains that people in an altered state of consciousness can sometimes see into the spirit world. Shari tells the girl to cut the shit because it's ruining her own/her father's life.

Later that night, they head over to Jo's for the meeting. Jimmy, Amanda, Jeff, Beth, Dan, and Jo are there with the Ouija board. Peter tells Shari that she can manipulate the planchette by sticking her ghost hands into their living hands, but she doesn't wanna do it. Peter reluctantly does it, and starts spelling Shari's name wrong.

He manages to communicate that Peter + Shari are together before he is blocked from moving the pointer. It spells out B-U-R-N-I-N-G and H-E-L-L. Jeff freaks and flips the board, almost knocking over a candle on the table. Are they ever gonna learn??

Jimmy runs from the room, and Shari follows him. The SHADOW shows up and corners her in the cemetery. Her gravestone turns into a mirror and Shari's reflection rewinds back through time and memories to when she was a new baby.

Peter's on the scene and pulls Shari out through the cemetery gates. He wants Shari to go to the light NOW, but she has another plan: to break into Jimmy's dreams and tell him that she's not in hell.

At Shari's house, her parents are leaving for a few days. Amanda will be staying over to keep Jimmy company while they're gone, and she's sleeping in Shari's bed. Shari goes into Jimmy's room at 2:15 AM, and touches him to get into his dreams. She does the same thing to Amanda in the room next door.

She decides to try Dan's dreams next. In Dan's bedroom, she grabs him and is immediately treated to a glimpse of Dan DreamWorld. A naked woman with Shari's face, and Beth's breasts and voice is laying on a circular bed. Actually, I'm not sure if it was circular, maybe I added that myself when I was picturing this. Shari has an outburst, to which DreamDan responds by asking "Marsha" to come back later. Shari asks: "Who's Marsha?"

Dan says it's his cousin from Florida, but they didn't have sex or anything. They only took a shower together. Shari = incredulous. She recovers and asks Dan how she died, which causes her to look all head-splattered to Dan's eyes. She leaves his dream and his house.

Shari also enters Jo's dream, but doesn't get any good information. She's interrupted when Peter calls out for help. The SHADOW is after him!!

Running to help Peter, Shari doesn't see The SHADOW. He tells her that there's a different SHADOW for each person. It's the hardass, self-critiquin', judgemental parts of your soul that get left behind when you go into the light. He doesn't really know what happens if you go into the SHADOW.

Once Peter is all right, Shari goes to Beth's and climbs up to the balcony from which she'd fallen to her death. The SHADOW appears on the bloodstained pavement and encourages Shari to jump. She does.

Her life flashes from birth, to being in the hospital nursery and having her hospital bracelet switched with another baby and being taken back to the wrong mother and living her entire life with fake parents and a fake brother. She sees her entire life until the scene of her death, but not who pushed her. But she knows for sure now that she didn't jump.

Shari wakes up later in the spot where she had died. She remembers some of what The SHADOW had shown her. Peter 'n' Shari head over to Mrs. Parish's in time to see Mrs. Foulton show up. Mrs. Foulton has a couple questions: 1) Does Mrs. Parish know that Amanda is spending the night at Jimmy's? and 2) What is the Catholic punishment for incest?

That's enough for Shari to figure it all out. Amanda is the daughter of the Cooper family. Shari is Mrs. Parish and Mr. Foulton's kid from when they had that affair that time. Mrs. Foulton switched the babies in the hospital just to be evil, I guess. Shari and Jo are half-sisters. Jimmy and Amanda are full brother and sister. But sister better not be full of brother over there at the Cooper's, if ya catch my drift.

There's a knock at the door and it's Garrett. I love how through the whole book it's just "Garrett". No title from the police force, no Detective, no Lieutenant, not even Mr. Like, he's an alcoholic so we needn't show him even a modicum of respect. He sits down with the sisters and drinks coffee, hangs out, shoots the shit, then makes an excuse to go to the can when he really just wants to snoop in Amanda's bedroom. He looks at her sneaker collection and finds a pair with orange dust on the soles. The very same orange dust that would only be on one's footwear if one had pushed Shari from the balcony, then had to climb part of the roof to get to the other door to reenter the apartment without being seen by the people inside.

Garrett wraps up a sneaker and tosses it out the window, so he can pick it up when he leaves. Which he promptly does. Back in his car, he radios for cars to get to the Cooper house to restrain Amanda. Shari uses her dead powers to make herself fly. She needs to get home quick in case Jimmy is in danger (of screwing a blood relation).

At the Cooper's, Amanda is feeding Jimmy diabetic-coma cake. She tells him that she's a virgin, and a diabetic, too. She has this romantic idea of them giving each other insulin shots. Amanda had heard her mother say that she and Jimmy were related, but Amanda believes that "Love knows no reason" and wants to sleep with him anyway.

He tries putting her off, and she gives him a shot of 10X his insulin dosage. Amanda tells Jimmy that she's the one who pushed Shari, then tries to inject him with an empty syringe. Shari begs Peter to go into Amanda and control her so she can't do it. He does for a second, but his SHADOW comes and he has to run. Peter tells Shari that he crossed the centre line on his motorcycle on purpose to commit suicide and that's why he's so afraid of his SHADOW and can't go into the light himself.

Amanda injects Jimmy with the air, and Shari somehow jumps herself into the air in the syringe and gets injected into Jimmy. In a mini-dream-world inside of Jimmy's heart, Shari tells Jimmy that he has to forgive Amanda and pop the balloon, which represents the air bubble in his vein, and not something else, you pervs, and he will live.

Garrett and the police finally arrive to arrest Amanda and get medical help for Jimmy. Shari and Peter confess that they had had feelings for each other when they were alive and make some sort of deal involving kisses. Cute.

So, the sad part is that the Cooper's real daughter killed their fake daughter and is being charged for it. Luckily, they're made of money and decide that Amanda needs the best legal coucil available. She's sentenced to a few years in psych. Poor Mrs. Parish's real daughter is dead, and her fake daughter is a psychotic criminal who now has a rich, real family and will never care about who raised her ever again.

The book ends with Shari & Peter getting into costumes (Shari as an angel, Peter as the devil) and paying a visit to Garrett's daughter. Shari is all goodness and light, trying to make her go straight before the devil gets a hold of her. Peter's devil is incredible. He talks all in rhymes, and that is truly the only bit of this whole book that rang any bells with me. So, they threaten the girl, and maybe that'll do it.

The other end-of-the-book tyin'-up-ends thing is that this entire story, the whole of Remember Me, is something that Shari wrote on Jimmy's computer (CRT) from beyond the grave. However that works.


This book is a hell of a lot of fun. Even when I don't make any Dead Like Me references. Shari is cool, real (Miss Cleo: "She real."), and not lame or annoying at all. The brother love is a little weird at times. Before we know that Amanda is Jimmy's DNA-mate, Shari is all jealous of their relationship. And that's when we all were being suckered into thinking Jimmy and Shari are bro/sis. So, Pike set it up that no matter who was related to who, it was gonna be a little bit creepy.

Awesome Readers, I have a very special treat for everyone this weekend. Pop Culture Confessions: Music of the 90s (and I can't be more specific than that because it's so treacherous that I might back out at the last minute. I'm gonna have to pre-schedule it to publish, then take a lot of sleeping pills or something just to make sure I don't delete the whole thing) promises to be totally awesome, if your idea of awesome is having so much ammo to make fun of me with that you're gonna have to quit your job just to heckle me like I deserve. So, be back here at Like Pike on Saturday. (Or whenever. I'll still be here.) See you then!


Unknown said...

Oh wow, I never realized that there was a reference to The Eternal Enemy in this book! I can't wait to see your write-up about it.

Out of all three books, I think I liked this one the best. The second one was all right, and the third one...oh man. What was up with the third one? But yeah, if Pike had never continued after Remember Me, I think I would've been perfectly fine with that; it's a compact story with a plot that flows and generally has some logic to it, and Shari was a perfectly likeable female protagonist (something that is apparently way harder to find than it should be). What really grabbed me was Shari's reaction to her funeral and how cavalier some of her friends were after her death (see: Beth and Dan).

It did take me a few reads to figure out exactly what had happened between Shari's true parentage and the whole Parish-Foulton mix-up, which is probably why I remember this book as well as I do. And I still got confused again when I read that part in your review!

(About your Pike booklist: I think I have Execution of Innocence, but I haven't had the time to go through my packed books. I'll see what I can do this weekend.)

Anonymous said...

"Hangin' with Shari Cooper" - ha! I really liked this book and I want to re-read it. It's one of the ones that I remember the most. I have always been fascinated by stories about babies switched at birth.

I totally based my views & thoughts on death and suicide on this book. (prior to reading this book, I really didn't know much about suicide). Pike made such an impression on me when I was younger. This came out in 1989, so I was probably around 11 when I read it.

Anonymous said...

Oh! And also cool that there was a reference to "The Eternal Enemy" in this book. I remember that, and being SO excited when Eternal Enemy came out! In the book, did they actually call it Eternal Enemy, or did it have a different title? I seem to remember it was called something else, but it's been awhile!

LongWinter said...

Kelly : Hey, thanks for thinking of me and my hard-to-find books situation. I think I feel the same as you about the Remember Me sequels, except 3 is borderline ok so far, and 2 is like WTF for me.

Zanne : It was just an unnammed short story, unfortunately. But if Pike-within-a-Pike is your thing, Remember Me 3 is JAM PACKED.

Anonymous said...

I loved this story as a kid and it's still one of his best. Thanks for the recap!

By the way, I think this part was backwards: "So, the sad part is that the Cooper's real daughter killed their fake daughter and is being charged for it." Should be "fake" then "real."

LongWinter said...

Oh... the way I interpreted it is that Amanda was their real daughter (biological) and she killed Shari (unintentional lifelong impostor), and Amanda (real) is being charged by the police... guess it could be either way???

Anonymous said...

Haha, omg. I think you're right and that's what I meant. I feel like a ditz and I'm embarassed now. I blame Pike and his crazy confusing plots. :P

LongWinter said...

I was confused writing it, so the possibility of error is HUGE. Too twisty for my brain!

But look at me: replying to you 8 minutes later... because I never leave my computer. I'm more embarrassed. Maybe I should come back later.

Anonymous said...

Haha, Pike just likes screwing with our brains. I think that's actually one of the plots for one of his other books though. :P

And I think it's great that you reply so quickly. It shows how dedicated to your blog and I really appreciate it because I love reading it. ^_^

Anonymous said...

This is such a messy, messy book, but parts of it are written so beautifully. When they talk about death and being's like real writing, very impressive for Mr. Pike. And when Shari says at the end, "I want people to remember me." it just pulled on my heartstrings. Definitely my favorite Pike book.

LittleDevil said...

OMG, I have the italian translation of this book, and I can't believe they left so much of it out! that is: 1) Shari and Dan having (a difficult time with) sex; 2) the "Big" Beth reference; 3) Dan and Beth making out; 4) the red-light part of Dan's dream; 5) Shari & Peter playing angel & devil (my copy just says they scare the girl into not taking drugs anymore). Apparently, they took away all the *cough cough* parts and even I'm grateful for this review, that let me know what I missed. Anyway, I have a number of Pike's books (some of them in the original version), and I learned that all the translation kind of "resumed" them here and there, I can't really understand why. It can't only be a matter of prudery (should I say censorship? grrr), because, for example, in "Remember me 3" they cut off Shari's story-within-the-story...Well,anyway, thanks for this blog (very amusing, too). I may consider buying "Remember me" again in english now - not for the dirty parts I missed (LOL), but because I hate the idea to have it in a mutilated version! It is my favourite Pike's book, and the very first one that I bought - because I read the recap on a book catalogue and it entrigued me so much. BTW, I'm really too old to read Pike's books, but who cares LOL.

notemily said...


Pike's characters are always busy writing his books. I'm almost positive it happens in at least one other novel. Also, notice how he likes to name characters "Chris" and "Kevin" after himself (pen name and real name)? Isn't there a Kevin Christopher in one of the previous books?

Remember Me is great, and the sequels really do drag it down. Of course I read them anyway, several times. I LOVED the switched-at-birth/incest plot--how scandalous!!!--and Shari's finding out about it by her life "flashing before her eyes," like people say it does when you die. Plus there's Ouija boards and trances, and the random Good Deed they do by scaring the cop's daughter straight. Good times.

Anonymous said...

I recently purchased the trilogy in the collection, 785 pages. I only got it because the first chapter was featured in the back of The Fallen 2, the last series I read. What I didn't realize, was that this book would touch me on every level imaginable. Because of it, I believe I have become a better person. His view on life and 'death' brightened my spirits. I'm 14, and usually, most teens are superficial, but I am definately not like that... Anymore. Nor, do I think I ever was. Anyways, I just was looking for his official site, and I happened upon this website. I just felt I should leave a comment describing how deep 785 paperback bundle actually touched me. Thank you Christopher Pike. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG in the second book Jean starts drinking and doing drugs at 6 weeks prego. i mean thats just messed up. and her lesbian friend said 'if u do keep the baby, we could all play with it. it will be fun.' 0_0 creepy

^^santa clause^^

Anonymous said...

i love this book and i think it is the best Christopher pike book i ever read and i have almost read them all. i don't think that the other 2 are even good but hey at lest one of them rocked

Unknown said...

Anonymous, you are adorable. And you nailed it. I'm 34 and I'm still obsessed with this book, a book I read at 13 years old. You nailed it. It haunts you for the rest of your life. I'm you in 20 years. 😉💜

Aimee Burton said...

Im the same, at 31! Still one of my very favourites.

Bjørn Parramoure said...

Totally appreciate this summary!

Bjørn Parramoure said...

Totally appreciate this summary!