Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Seemed like I read about a few books that women losing their memories.  And every once in a while, when I read about several new books, I go to my public library's website and put my name on the hold lists for these books.  So I wasn't even sure which of the "women losing their memories" books I picked up when I checked this out.

This book is fairly light-hearted.  Kind of cute and funny in spots, a lot about family and friends and community.  The other book about a woman losing her memory is quite different.

In this book, Alice falls at the gym and loses consciousness.  When she wakes, she seems to have lost the last ten years of her life.  She thinks she's nearly married and pregnant with her first child.  She's startled to realize that she's going through a divorce and a nasty custody battle for her three children.  In her mind, she's still very much in love with her husband, and has big hopes for their future together, but in reality their future together is over.  She doesn't remember the birth of her first child, or the existence of her other two children.  She doesn't understand why her sister, with whom she'd once been close, is now so distant and bitter. 

This book really made me think about how our past selves would view our future self.  I read this right around the tenth anniversary of 9/11, so it was easy for me to remember exactly where I was in my life ten years ago.  Twenty-five years old, just started grad school, living in a little (but rather expensive) apartment in a fancy suburb.  I was at a job I didn't like much - which is why I was going back to school.  I had big plans to get my masters in women's studies, move to New York City and seriously pursue my writing career, focusing on women's issues.  Back then, I never would have imagined that I'd end up a high school art teacher (sometimes, even now, I'm still not quite sure how all that happened.) 

It's interesting to see how the main character handles this situation.  She's determined to save her marriage, wants to repair the broken relationships that seem to have happened over the past decade.  But as her memory returns, she realizes she's holding on to things that no longer existed, relationships that fell apart over time, for valid reasons.

I liked the book.  As I said, it feels like a light read, but it's deceptively deep.  As Alice's memories rush back to her, the reader almost understands why she would allow herself to forget.  She suffered a horrible loss that anyone would want to forget.  As I said, it really made me think about my own life and the way things can change, or in some cases, remain completely the same, over a decade.  Sometimes maybe we need to stop and re-evaluate our lives because sometimes we end up going a direction we never meant to go. 

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