Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot
By Liane Moriarty
Publication date: August 11, 2009, June 2, 2011 (US)

My review:

Alice Love comes to after an accident at the gym believing she is 29 years old, happily married, and pregnant with her first child. In reality she is a 39 year old mother of three who is getting divorced. She has no memory of the past ten years and can't understand where her life went so wrong. The more she learns about her new self, the less she likes it. Can Alice reclaim her memory and save her family or is it too late?

Going into this novel, I was reminded of Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella. While both protagonists suffer temporary amnesia, the books are different in tone. What Alice Forgot explores not only marriage and parenthood but also the issues of infertility, loss, friendship, and new love. Young Alice is portrayed as naive and perhaps a little immature. She is babied by her family and husband and they seem to think she isn't capable of handling much. They protect her from life's difficulties. I sometimes found Young Alice to be annoying (I could picture her being portrayed in film by Amy Adams-the character reminded me of the one she played in Enchanted).  In contrast, mature Alice is much more driven. She likes control and order and she expects perfection. Seeing this new and "improved" Alice is difficult for her younger self to take. 

In addition to Alice, we also see the story through the view of Alice's older sister Elisabeth who is a successful businesswoman on the outside but she struggles with her continuing inability to have children. Elisabeth is very different from Alice and her thoughts help readers to understand Alice better too. Interspersed with Alice and Elisabeth's stories is that of Frannie, the girls' honorary grandmother. Frannie has suffered loss too and she held their family together when Alice and Elisabeth's dad passed away and their mother fell into depression. Frannie's voice is not as strong as the sisters and I think it did not add much to the book. She is feisty but we didn't need to read the story through her eyes as well.

What Alice Forgot has some flaws but somehow it still works. One problem is that there is quite a bit of jumping around between past and present. It is also strange that no one around Alice seems to truly grasp that she has amnesia and what that means. They all keep expecting her to remember and know things in her present life that she has obviously forgotten. I didn't like the way the whole story-line with Gina was revealed and I also thought the ending wasn't very believable though it was still nice.

It is wish fulfillment to have the opportunity for a do-over in life and maybe some readers will have a hard time with this book because it comes across sometimes as a holiday movie. The amnesia plot device is used to explore the drastic differences in Alice's life then and now and it allows readers to reflect on how our choices can change so much of our lives. I liked how we were able to look at a marriage and see some of the things that went wrong. What Alice Forgot refers not just to the loss of ten years of memory but also to forgetting what is important to us in life. Mature Alice and Nick have lost sight of what mattered to them ten years ago and life has a way of changing people sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Overall I thought this was an excellent novel about family, friendship, and self discovery.

Readalikes: Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella, PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen


  1. Awesome review. Sounds like a good read and an eye opener.

  2. I loved this novel. I did wonder if my self 10 years ago would like myself now. I reckon I wouldn't LOL
    I looked at the jumping about from a diff view. I took it that as a woman with amnesia, that is how her life would be. :)


  3. I look forward to trying this one. I would question why others don't realise either.

  4. This sounds like a really interesting read! I've only read one book by Sophia Kinsella, but I enjoyed it. It this is something similar, I'm definitely interested in checking it out. :) Thanks for sharing!

  5. I've heard really good things about this one - love the premise!

  6. Now I really want to read it! I love that the book explores so many issues and reveals them in the characters.

    Thanks for sharing.


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