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Review: What Alice Forgot

What would you do if you woke up with ten years of your memory gone? That’s the premise of What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty ($16.00 Penguin Group, 496 pages).

Here is the book’s official summary:

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…

It’s funny how I stumbled across this book. I wanted a spooky ghost story to go with the Halloween season, but somehow my interest wandered to the Australian chick lit area. No matter how hard I try to diversify my tastes, my book choices always circle around to kinda serious/kinda comedic family conflict stories with female protagonists. This book didn’t disappoint. And I’m happy to have just learned that it’s being made into a motion picture from the Devil Wears Prada team!

OK, on to the review. This is one of those stories that will make you reflect on your own life while reading about the main character. It’s not a book that will whisk you away to another land, because the topic hits so close to home for many of us. Busy moms juggling kids, personal goals, moody hubbys, flaky friends, social life and more. While at first Alice’s 10-year memory lapse is cute and silly, the depths of the trauma are revealed. Best friends are no longer around and they are replaced with new ones. Alice sees that the 29-year-old version of herself (and the company she keeps) is completely different from her 39-year-old self. And she can’t figure out how that happened, neither can we. Alice is such a warm-hearted, easy-going person. How on Earth did she end up as a caffeine-addicted household dictator who overanalyzes everything? And why is she so mean to her husband?

After the head konk, she awakens fully in love with her soon-to-be ex-husband, and is shocked at how skinny her body is. Alice can’t remember her children or even her house. Alice’s sister, who was previously estranged, is now her only hope for answers. The mystery is revealed slowly, sometimes painfully. I adored the younger Alice and crossed my fingers through the book that she would win out over older Alice, who to me seemed awfully stuffy.  We find out there are plenty of reasons why the change took place.

You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens, I suggest you do. It will leave you guessing, plus make you bust out a giggle or two. Most of all, it will make you think of how much you’ve changed over a decade. Not just in your physical appearance, but also your wisdom and relationships. The things or people you overlooked or didn’t take time to really connect with, the relationships you let roll onto autopilot and so on. What Alice Forgot is a nice reminder to hold on to our youthful ideals as we navigate the romantic concept of aging gracefully. I’m not surprised its being made into a movie.

I really loved this book and am excited to read more by this author, Liane Moriarty. You can see her web site HERE.

Happy Dia de Los Muertos!

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